Geolocated poetry at Hinkley C in Somerset

Willow Cathedral Longrun Meadow Words

 

Ash, oak and willow herb

Woven flight of swift bird

Smell of green in warmth pervading

Circle songs of birds uplifting

Happy Moment by Gaby Armstrong

National Meadows Day saw a suite of events across the country of which Poetry Pin played its part, as a word and poetry workshop in the Willow Cathedral on Longrun Meadow, Taunton. The Cathedral is slowly becoming Taunton’s soft alternative venue, it sits on a flood plain beside the river Tone and through summer months is the place to stop and enjoy the buzz of the meadow and the gentle passing of time. For me the Cathedral is an ideal spot to run a Poetry Pin workshop too, getting passing families to add a few words to the canvas of ‘place’ and respond with words to the environment and then use the Poetry Pin Engine to geo tag them to the location they are stood.

Those attending or just passing by and curiously drawn in generally don’t consider themselves as poets, but when they leave after tagging a few words to the landscape, they feel a little less ‘not a poet’ if that is at all possible. I am constantly surprised by the ingenuity and creativity of strangers, and it is rare they don’t surprise themselves a little too!

Minky Mostly slide slinky not slowly

Two whippets fast darting past fluttering butterflies

Finally tired

Lazy through the towering willow lying on a grassy pillow

In a lattice of shadows the two dogs eventually rest.

Longrun Whippets by Hannah and Jess

There are about two dozen poems tagged to Longrun Meadow now, of which these posted are part of, but I will leave you with this one of my composition which was drawn from a list of plants which have become resident in the meadow as only a few years ago this was arable farm land. The names of these plants lends to poetry with ease, and so there are a few compositions on this theme.

Wavy Bitter-cress is here

Down by your knees beside the Common Mouse-ear

Or over near the Smooth Hawks-beard

Aside Dandelion and the Crested Dog’s-tail

Or was that the Meadow Foxtail

No definitely beside the Ribwort Plantain

But you’ve got to root and scour through the brush

And careful you don’t squash the Bulbous buttercup

Not to be confused with its sibling of course

Its a little sensitive to naming

Miss spelling is rude, inconsiderate and a little shaming

It must be identified right and true

This is the right plant, through and through

But I think I am more convinced as to what it is not

So yes, right here

It’s definitely the Bitter-cress we’ve got

I think

Wavey Bitter-cress by Christopher Jelley

 

The day was facilitated by Arts Taunton and InspirED – the educational arm of Somerset Arts Works and designed to engage with individuals and families with word and place during National Meadows Day 1st July 2017

More about National Meadows Day

http://www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk/celebrating-meadows/national-meadows-day

All poems written on the day were also geo-located to the meadow at

https://taunton.poetrypin.info

and are available to view for free in location they were posted at this web address.

More info about Poetry Pin – get in touch for your own Poetry Pool

https://poetrypin.info

More info about Arts Taunton

http://www.artsculturepublishing.co.uk/client/client-14/

Vision On Poetry

A busy couple of weeks has just passed with Poetry Pin having a great article in The Poetry Society Newspaper as well as a stall and platform at the Visit Exeter launch at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum with partners Daisi – Arts Inspired Learning.

Poetry Society News – Mr Jelley of Poetry Pin

The Poetry Society News is a quarterly paper specifically for members with competitions and awards for works across the country, so it is amazing to have an article about my contribution to the poetry world. Connecting to professionals and possible collaborators is essential and I am really excited to see what interest and leads may come about through it.

In a similar but more immediate way, last week’s Visit Exeter launch was an event purely for providers in the city, and again an excellent networking event but obviously focused specifically on Exeter providers. The night was designed for businesses to show each other what they do for the city, so it was great to be there with Daisi, my Exeter Poetry Pin partners.

Our stand included pin medallions, depicting poems published to the city since Exeter Poetry Pin went live in January. It was great to be able to use such a fresh resource, illustrating the depth and breadth of interest the writing community has here, but the real key connections came in the form of Exeter Red Coats, Exeter’s enigmatic tour guides. These knowledgeable ambassadors have a truly street level perspective on the cities historic layers and so a digital addition with Poetry Pin could perhaps provide a new string to add to their professional bow. When we chatted it was obvious their interest was piqued, and we really hope they will embrace Exeter Poetry Pin and help spread the word of this virtual poetry city.

So there is plenty more for Poetry Pin and Daisi to do, raising awareness of the creative possibilities across Exeter as the seasons warm. As the joy of walking becomes less about dodging the cold showers and more about appreciating this fabulous place, perhaps you will be enticed to leave a token few words in your favourite corner of the city too.

If you are considering a poetry pin for your city or festival then please do get in touch, it can add a brilliant new creative cultural layer, shining light on old places in new ways.

A Pixel of Poets

There is a school of thought which suggests an event horizon or critical mass of engagement, which a few rare projects may attain or even pass through and come of age. This is the point they become fully grown, have a life of their own beyond the concept which was originally conceived or designed.  This is a point in time which you wish and plan for but ironically, are quite reticent about, the point where people begin to engage and populate the project, driving it in new directions and with new desires, it is the point you yearn for all projects to attain yet unfortunately they rarely do.

image by Andrea Gallagher

For example earlier this month a poet pinned her poem in the designed digital fashion, but rather than just tagging it to one spot, she cut it up into ten pieces and pinned those across the city individually. The poetry hunter can now search out all ten parts to read the whole poem dipping across the city to hoover all the elements up to make a whole, or enjoy each morsel individually like succulent fruits.

The first Poetry Pin trail at Hinkley Point in West Somerset was designed as a path of poems along a public right of way in the shadow of the new build, and poems posted along its length became a poetry trail. But Exeter is naturally different, there is no single trail, with head and tail, but as poems are posted and pinned the natural topography interposes itself and journeys of poetry are born. A little like a picture is formed of its pixels, the Exeter Poetry Pin is naturally becoming linear journeys through the city, or more playfully perhaps a series of poetry passages.

image by Andrea Gallagher

This is what I had hoped for and envisaged, that writers would be so enamoured with words and places they would be compelled (like me) to post and pin their words but then Andrea Gallagher (the poet who cut her poem up) went a little further and connected the physical to the digital by dropping little poetry bottles in the places her words were pinned. This connected the ethereal digital of Poetry Pin to the location in a generous and tactile manner, pointing back to the words hidden across the city.

As it is very difficult to add signage across Exeter, and there are plenty of good reasons why the red tape exists, it falls to the artists to create new ways to point back to their poetry. Andrea’s poem and bottles are a wonderful example of this creativity artists have, the desire to play and tinker to create a treasure trail of secrets in a special and unique way. This is a sentiment we adore, for me it is why and how the project works, the very ‘ask’ of Poetry Pin requires strangers to gift their time just for the fun of it, it is an ‘ask’ which, when people post poems, we find perpetually humbling and lifting in equal measure.

Exeter is gently becoming the first digital poetry city, words stitched to place by a ‘pixel of poets’ (a new collective noun perhaps), now eight score and more poems have been pinned since opening, we must thank those who have gifted their time to play and to encourage you to carry on playing. Has Exeter Poetry Pin passed that supposed event horizon? Who knows, but it definitely feels like the first wing beats of flight have happened and our feet are truly off the ground.

Thankyou.


He keeps her soul sealed

In a small glass jar,

Up there on the shelf.

Until she’s ready

To come take it back.

 

All that time searching,

Looking for something.

She didn’t know what.

Her body a husk,

A broke open shell.

Parts one and two from ‘Message in a bottle: Lost and Found’ by Andrea Gallagher

images by Andrea Gallagher


Exeter Poetry Pin has been made possible with our partners Daisi Arts and Exeter City Council.

links

Daisi – Arts Inspired Learning

The Exeter trail – https://exeter.poetrypin.info

The First Virtual Poetry City

Exeter Poetry Pin will, from Monday 9th January 2017, be the first virtual poetry city!

Monumental news which I have been keeping close to my chest as it feels just too good to be true. Some people pick up scratch cards and lottery tickets, other trawl antique markets in the hope to strike it lucky, but for me it’s Poetry Pin which can provide riches and rewards. For late last year in response to the fire at the Royal Clarence Hotel, Exeter City Council got in touch wanting to provide city residents with a mechanism to engage their thoughts and views about the city through poetry.

My works with Lynmouth Pavilion and The Exmoor National Park over the last three years culminated in the publishing of a book called Exmoor Poetry Boxes – A harvest of wild words. The project placed six little tins in three different Exmoor locations over the summers of 2014, 15 and 16 harvesting words from passersby, by the end of the three summers we had over 5500 poems, an incredible achievement.

It caught the attention of The Guardian newspaper and national TV which was then picked up by an Exeter city councillor, thinking perhaps a similar approach could capture the sentiment about the fire and the wider city as a whole. After much deliberation, they considered the Poetry Boxes too vulnerable in the city, and so instead decided on the alternative digital option of the Poetry Pin system, which we have subsequently modified especially with Exeter in mind.

Partnering with Daisi – The Devon Arts Organisation the refreshed system will enable poetry to be posted anywhere across the city, a zone which is about 12km wide and covering segments of EX1,2,3 and 4. Anyone with a smart phone and visiting https://exeter.poetrypin.info will be able to post and read poems woven into the very weft of the cities skin.

From 9th January the new Poetry Pin canvas will go live, and here are a few words from Daisi – Arts Inspired Learning about the Exeter Poetry Pin.

The aims of this project are, to engage and inspire Exeter residents to reflect, consider and put their thoughts into words, in order that others can share their experiences. The poems may be inspired by the fire or they may be about the city itself, their sense of place, importance of heritage or something else related to the city. The geo location of each poem adds an extra dimension to the poetry, as it will locate the poem to the specific point in the city where the author stood, thus giving the reader a sense of place and connection.

So charge up your phone and go searching and posting poems, the dawn of the virtual poetry city is upon us with Exeter as the figure head.

links

Daisi – Arts Inspired Learning

Lynmouth Pavilion and Exmoor National Park

Exmoor Poetry Boxes Book – a harvest of wild words

the new trail – https://exeter.poetrypin.info

Mineral Line Focus Walk

Number six and final focus walk along the mineral line, with stunning weather.img_2244

Workshop walkers were challenged with both reading and writing as we walked, plus the traditional ‘word shells’ adding that extra confusion to the days deliberations.

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At the witches tree, compositions began in earnest.

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Witch’s Tree
The shells of which you weekly bring
and hang upon me with a string
are all it takes to make me think
I grow aslant the glassy drink.
Matt Bryden

Finally down to the exhibition at Contains Art’s courtyard, which will remain in situ throughout Somerset Art Week. (17th September – 2nd August 2016)

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Poems from the trail fly in the wind around the courtyard, each poem is digitally accessible in full, the exhibition highlights and points to the posted poems.

gogo

Both trails will remain open indefinitely, receiving new poems and words and tagging them to the landscape for others to read and enjoy.

If you would like to host a poetry pin trail, or have a festival which would benefit from this technology then please get in touch. New projects which push the boundaries of new writing possibilities are just our cup of tea.

But in the mean time here is a poem tethered around the East Quay in Watchet next to the boat yard and harbour where the poems fly upon the sea breeze.

 

The lamenting song of land hobbled yachts

Soft twang of mast wire tremmels as the winds lift

Yacht masts twitch, itching to be about

Their hulls eager to crest over turgid silt ridden surf

Time to play, the wind chimes and toys

Whipping at harp strings

Master strokes

Taunting

Come play

Come play

Leave your lubbers behind

Shed your tethers

And be free with me

Come fill your bow sprits

Jive your jibs and sheet those aching ribs

Away

Ting ting

Christopher Jelley

Ore Struck

Yesterday Phil Gannon, historian and guardian of the Mineral line took a group of Poetry Pinners along a section of the trail un-peeling a little of the history around the building of the Mineral line itself.

The walk endeavoured to put some historical flesh on the bones so to speak with participants being handed a ‘note board’ to scribble thoughts phrases and ideas as we meandered.
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After an hour or so of facts and interesting historical anecdotes (and quite a few horrific deaths) we headed back into Watchet revealing a few tethered poems along the way.

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The final walk will be on the 17th September and walk from Old Cleeve Recreation ground (Washford) down the trail to Watchet to then finish at Contains Art on the East Quay. In the gallery courtyard there will be an installation of poems in sync with Somerset Arts Weeks exhibitions from 17th September to 2nd October.

The walk is free and we are due to meet at 1pm Washford recreation ground, TA23 0PF

Bring your phone if you have one, but tech will be provided to reveal the words.

Allow 3hrs – flat level

Well behaved dogs welcome on short lead!

Vital Minerals

Mineral

The Focus Walks – Bring a pencil and a head full of ideas!

The first focus walk will be on the 14th June at 7pm – meet at Contains Art on the East Quay

What is happening?

This June will see the launch of the second Poetry Pin trail along West Somerset’s historic Mineral Line, with the first workshop on the evening of the 14th. Firstly the workshops will provide guidance on a technical basis, showing everyone just how darn simple it is to read and post poetry. Secondly there will be ‘creative elements’ (don’t wince!) sometimes there are simple props and techniques you can use to help you write. These might involve inviting guests to lead walks along the trail to seed our heads with ideas and historical knowledge. Other times this will involve more random elements of word play inspiring you to make links beyond your regular cognitive thoughts.

All said and done, the workshops are basically straightforward walks both around Watchet and along the Mineral Line to Washford (Old Cleeve) reading and pinning words as we go.

Please email and let us know if you, and which of your fifty closest friends are able to join us so that we may get an idea of numbers and plan accordingly. 

Listed below are the dates for all six summer Mineral Line Poetry Pin Workshop Walks.

We look forward to seeing  you on the 14th June for the big go, go, go!

Here is a reminder of a previous workshop walk down to Shurton Bars.

 

Focus walks No 1 – 14th June 2016 – 7pm

Meet Contains Art, East Quay Watchet TA23 0AQ

No previous skills needed, bring your smart phone, a pencil and healthy curiosity

Allow 2hrs – flat level

Well behaved dogs welcome on short lead

 

Focus Walk No 2  – 25th June 2016 – 1pm

Meet Washford recreation ground, TA23 0PF

No previous skills needed, bring your smart phone, a pencil and healthy curiosity

Allow 3hrs – flat level

Well behaved dogs welcome on short lead

 

Focus Walk No 3 – 12th July  7pm

Meet Contains Art, East Quay Watchet TA23 0AQ

No previous skills needed, bring your smart phone, a pencil and healthy curiosity

Allow 2hrs – flat level

Well behaved dogs welcome on short lead

 

Focus Walk No 4 – 9th August  7pm

Meet Contains Art, East Quay Watchet TA23 0AQ

No previous skills needed, bring your smart phone, a pencil and healthy curiosity

Allow 2hrs – flat level

Well behaved dogs welcome on short lead

 

Focus Walk No 5 – The Mineral Line History with Phil Gannon – 18th August 4pm

Meet Contains Art, East Quay Watchet TA23 0AQ

No previous skills needed, bring your smart phone, a pencil and healthy curiosity

Allow 2hrs – flat level

Well behaved dogs welcome on short lead

 

Focus Walk No 6 – To the Contains Art Exhibition – 17th September 2016 – 1pm

Meet Washford recreation ground, TA23 0PF

No previous skills needed, bring your smart phone, a pencil and healthy curiosity

Allow 3hrs – flat level

Well behaved dogs welcome on short lead

Mineral Line Poetry Pin Project

Well this is one of those ‘stop the presses’ moments as the funding has just been approved for the second Poetry Pin trail, this time along the historic Mineral Line from Old Cleeve into Watchet. It’s brilliant as the old code for the current trail at Hinkley will get a spruce too, the wheels of coding you don’t see need greasing every now and then too.

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So today is the day to crack open the champagne and tomorrow is the one the good work starts on delivering, working out timetables and realistic launch dates.

This is the call out for all writers and poets to sharpen their pencils for poetry and words tethered to specific locations. Spread the word, as the trail is only as strong as it’s authors, and I have a good feeling we are about to start something really truly exciting.

Keep an eye here as works develop, follow us on the twitter or FB, just search for the #PoetryPin and we’ll be there.

Landscaping Change – Wild Words

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Easter 2016, and I have just presented to delegates at the Landscaping Change conference at Bath Spa University. The talk was entitled Wild Words and covered three aspects of my works all of which place words in wild places, but towards the end I was determined not to let the debate descend down the rabbit hole of whether we should or should not build a new nuclear power station. The preparation for this keynote made me re-examine and dissect my practice and re evaluate its purpose and relevance in today’s media saturated environment.

I also knew that an hour and a quarter was long enough to include a practical element, the image above illustrates a note card, penciled by a delegate whilst I meandered through my talk. The request was simple, harvest resonant words and phrases, and at the end these were typed into the Storywalk Engine to create a poetry trail in the grounds of the Newton Park Campus.


Wandering

Thoughts
Inhabit
Ephemeral space

Untethered horizons left fear gaps
Selection cutting populate topi biographical collapse

Valley of the rocks
Birthed lyrical ballads
Now tech connects
Invocations to Pan
“In the light of things”

A stone looks like a fox
Its tail wrapped round
I fear nuclear power
The men in black
The poetry on the stones washes away


But beyond the practical of my practice I wanted to talk about user engagement, whether that be a super simple poetry box, or more hi tech works using smart phones and GPS responsive web code. Handing out the word harvest cards made the keynote more a workshop, linking directly to how I work with groups in the field. As I look back at the session these cards and subsequent poetry have become a fascinating loop of feedback, revealing ghosts of my words poking through the wrappers of their creative writing.

I talked about the poetry boxes which were first deployed at Valley of Rocks (2014), then Tarr Steps (2015) and this summer are due to be deployed in the village of Dunster, all Exmoor locations. This three year project has been a great surprise in just how six little tins with pencils and a book inside can have such high user engagement. So far the project has accrued around 4300 poems, and all from just passing strangers.

Moving on to the Storywalks project I explained the fundamentals of how I have developed this form of publishing and its unique location reactive features, to finally then talk about the Poetry Pin project. Its first outing has been in the shadow of Hinkley C the UK’s first new nuclear build in a generation and having walked the trail regularly over the project’s year and run countless workshops I have had to confront my own personal prejudices over nuclear power again and again. During the presentation I asked for a show of hands to see who was ‘happy’ we were having a new nuclear build, the response was unanimously against unsurprisingly. But then the electrons firing the very data projector in the lecture theatre were in part pushed at Hinkley B, are we not all complicit in approval and have been for 35 years or more? Every time we charge our phones and switch on the light in the West Country our power is mainly from this plant, but what choice do we have , and so down the rabbit hole we go again.


Rocky ledge

A comfort to sit
Cold on my bottom
But
A different
Place to dream
To see through
The present
Moment
And
Engage
With something
Deeper
Somethings
Beyond
From the island
On a clear day

floating like confetti or dust
flying like fairy birds and loopy bees
loopy bees looping me as I stand, smiling
at him

Ephemeral words washed by waves

Stop legitimising nuclear madness

Meanings embedded in the place


Surly as artists, academics and creatives it is our place to question the knowledge we have, and unpick our own prejudices wherever they lie. The Poetry Pin project (and soon to be projects hopefully) is just another tool for publishing, I am proud that its birth was at Hinkley C, this place needs discussing and poetry has a long history of activism, propaganda and militancy. Interestingly the debate yesterday touched on the issue that the Poetry Pin trail itself was part of the promotion to ease us into acceptance of Hinkley C, and they have a point, until that is they read the posted poetry.

Perhaps the next trail should take a leaf out of the poetry box project which has engaged with such huge numbers, why not locate Poetry Pin in a beauty spot, a nature park or festival, a place where the people want to go for recreation and don’t feel pressured to have an opinion. It is not a requisite that Poetry Pin must rub against issues, but it just feels right that it can and therefore should, its modus and form is location based, it begs to be at the cutting edge of the wheel, where attrition is sharper, keener and more dynamic. As artists at what point do we decide to lean into the punches more than shirk them. Poetry Pin can be deployed in a myriad of places, over holocaust graves, migrant camps, or even the path of HS2, but it comes back to the audience, community and their desire to deny or participate.

The first Poetry Pin trail thankfully has a range of works seeded down its spine as well as a book to its name, linked to a project which is still deep in the kangaroo of policy stop-start, stop-start. The system is designed to focus authors and audience into the super local in publicly accessible places making the experience neat, personal and ripe to be layered into the physical topography of a media savvy society.

So form an orderly queue please and prep your communities for more wild words inside a poetry pin project and perhaps we’ll find some new rabbit holes to explore.


We traverse the ancient road over the clapper bridge rifting above the mire we sing

That what I, lapsed surrogate, scream cash-money, high-five

I am married to the Soundcatcher; I asked for the sound of the wind in the trees

Silver trails of light
Ambling words bringing
Landscape to life
Tethering and untethering
Along paths constructed
From lingering thoughts

School trip, glow in the dark strips
Ladybirds
Stalled….dig my feet in

High tech user of textual commodity
The burden of language now
Life is interactive


All these words are un altered and in their entirety from their posting by the delegates during the seminar at the Landscaping Change conference at Bath Spa University UK.

 

Innovations in Poetry . . .

ted_hughes_poetry_B+W

So firstly Happy New Year and welcome to a rejuvenated focus which has started (as usual) with a flood of emails, but for me it feels like back to work with a leap rather than a thump. But interestingly one of these emails was from the Poetry Society calling for nominations for ‘New Innovations in Poetry’ with the Ted Hughes Award, and I thought to myself – surely Poetry Pin in its concept and implementation is worthy of a nomination?

So in a moment of raw arrogance I thought I should ask the talented followers and participants (you!) of the project whether you would place a recommendation, the only caveat being that you do need to be a Poetry Society Member (which I do personally recommend)

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So there it is, a short but concise request, but time is short, the nomination procedure closes on the 8th January 2016 so please don’t delay, and to make things even easier I’ve included a little link here to their competition web page so you can add Poetry Pin in.

http://poetrysociety.org.uk/competitions/ted-hughes-award/

There are new plans afoot for a new Poetry Pin trail, but it is still too early to spill the beans, so instead I shall leave you with a short extract from the poem ‘Greasing Palms’ which nests about two-thirds along the trail. It is not far from where the new reactors will be sited and just across from the spot where archeologists revealed post holes from our ancestors settlements, along with the graves of residents who have toiled here across the centuries.

Greasing Palms

Now heavy plant erases this past
The ancient field lines their homes and hearths
The round house footings but resistive measures
Captured by technicians mapping these treasures
Are now removed for new history in the making
Shelve the past for its the future we’re breaking
And all that’s captured in this land
From ancient works to quern stone grinds
Turned and terraced
Rolled and topped
Dug and drained
Burnt and mocked
Mashed and sealed with heavy plant
All made possible with a government grant

(Christopher Jelley – project poet)

The project book entitled ‘ A Walk Down the Rift’ (Fly Catcher Press) is available from Number Seven Dulverton and Amazon (£10 hard back) and documents a year walking, reading and writing poetry in the shadow of Hinkley C, the UK’s first new nuclear build in decades.