Words for Walls poetry in public places, female reading poetry

December 7, 2016, by Katherine Beers

We love this project – Words for Walls

You may have heard about the Words for Walls project already because it’s been running since May 2016, and was officially launched as part of the Festival of Literature at the Nottingham Five Leaves Bookshop. We have fallen a bit in love with this project at Library Matters, and have been promoting via Twitter @UoNLibraries as well as in our library spaces.

To explain a little bit more about the public poetry scheme, Nicola Thomas has written the following piece for us:

Take a walk around any major city, and you’ll quickly notice that the walls are covered in words – not just in the form of advertising, but also countless notices and public information announcements, bus timetables, pictures of lost cats, police appeals, and the spidery scrawls of graffiti artists. Some of these words are useful; lots of them are interesting – but very few are surprising, beautiful or stick in the mind.

That’s why we decided to set up Words for Walls, a project for Nottingham which aims to carve out a public space for words that go beyond the mundane; to make room for the public display of poetry in both familiar and unusual places, from pubs and shops to libraries and galleries, and on public transport.

As researchers examining the relationship between poetry, space and place at the University of Nottingham, we know that literature is one of the most important ways in which people have engaged with their physical surroundings throughout history.

Our project, and the poems which feature in it, reflect how writers associated with Nottingham across the ages have expressed ideas of space, place, identity and belonging in their work. The range of poems on display is remarkable: you will be able to spot classics by Lawrence and Byron alongside the work of local young people and established writers such as Sarah Jackson, the Nottingham-based poet whose collection Pelt (Bloodaxe, 2012) won the prestigious Seamus Heaney prize.

The earliest poem included is from Anglo-Saxon Saxon chronicle, dating from around the 9th century, which describes the military success of King Edmund, Lord of the English: “The Boroughs Five he won, Leicester and Lincoln, / Nottingham, Derby and Stamford too”. And we come right up to date with Matt Welton’s poem about the birds of Nottingham, from geese and robins to magpies and – of course – ‘ducks’.

We hope everyone in Nottingham whose eye catches a poem in their favourite café, in the pub or on the bus over the next six weeks finds something memorable or interesting about these poems, which reflect ten centuries of Nottingham’s poetic history – and its future.

Poetry in Nottingham Public Places , man walking past display screens


If you would like to track the progress of this wonderful initiative then you can follow @words_for_walls on Twitter, on Instagram and Facebook. Or why not try and spot some of the poetry displayed on buses, shop windows around and about Nottingham.  


Poetry in Nottingham Public Place

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