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.


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.


Daisi – Arts Inspired Learning

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