"Poems on the Underground" is a unique, London-based project that aims to promote various national and international poets. This year, selected poems from Polish Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Czesław Miłosz appeared on London's Central line as well as on tube billboards.
"Poems on the Underground" is a unique, London-based project that aims to promote various national and international poets. This year, selected poems from Polish Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Czesław Miłosz, appeared on London's Central line as well as on tube billboards.
The initiative formed part of the Polish 2011 Miłosz Year - celebrating the works and cultural legacy of the acclaimed poet, prose writer and translator.
Launched in 1986, "Poems on the Underground" is a project sponsored by the London Underground, as well as The British Council, London Arts, The Poetry Society and The Arts Council of England. The Commonwealth Institute and the British Tourist Authority have also collaborated with the project.
The idea was devised by American writer Judith Chernaik, who wanted poetry to reach the wide variety of audiences regularly using the underground. Chernaik continues to select poems for use on the underground, (aided by poets Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert) which include both contemporary and historic works, from newcomers to acclaimed, international poets. Every season, six poems appear in tube carriage advertising spaces across London.
2011 is particularly significant as it marks the 25th anniversary of "Poems on the Underground". This year's series includes new poems by Irish poet Seamus Heaney and Guyana-born Grace Nichols, who were both featured in the very first set of poems from January 1986. Heaney was later awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, whilst the works of Grace Nichols are now widely read throughout the UK.
This year also featured three Polish poets. Czesław Miłosz's poem "Blacksmith Shop" will be accompanied by works of Polish contemporaries, Zbigniew Herbert and Adam Zagajewski (best known for his "Try to Praise the Mutilated World"). All three poets are closely linked: Czesław Miłosz translated both Herbert and Zagajewski's works into English.
"Poems on the Underground" has inspired a host of partner programmes around the world: from Dublin (on the DART suburban railway) to Adelaide, Melbourne, New York, Paris, Stuttgart, Sydney, Barcelona, Athens, Moscow, St. Petersburg and Shanghai. The UK "Poems on the Underground" have been displayed in the subway systems of Helsinki, Oslo, Stockholm and Vienna. Poem series are often themed. Past topics include: European Poetry, Young Poems on the Underground, Commonwealth Poetry, Chinese Poetry, African Poetry and 1,000 Years of Poetry. The Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency of the EU Council will also exhibit Miłosz's poems elsewhere throughout the programme's ten global partner states.
Date: July, 2011
Venue: London's Central line
Organised by: London Underground, The British Council, London Arts, The Poetry Society, The Arts Council of England
Project cofinanced by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland.
Czesław Miłosz is a Flagship Project of the Cultural Programme of the Polish Presidency. For more information on the project, see: Czesław Miłosz
Source: Adam Mickiewicz Institute