Current exhibitions

The Poetry Library Open Day 2015 |The End of the Poem | 08-Nov-15

Are the old ways of writing poetry finished? Will the poems of the future be written by machines? Is it possible to take up Ezra Pound's challenge and 'make it new'? 

What will future poetry movements look like? And will poetry continue to play a role in social change as we head further into a world led by data?

Our seventh annual open day tackled these questions. The work exhibited was by poets who have returned to traditional printing methods in response to digital, poets who are addressing what the future city might look like (and those who are returning to nature) and poets who are challenging capitalism and looking for a different system of political order for the future. 

This exhibition explored the alternate worlds of science-fiction poetry and considered if poetry really can be written without any words.

Poets, writers and artists on display from the library's extensive collections included Katherine Angel, Blaise Cendrars, John Christie, Kenneth Goldsmith, James Hoff, Ron King, Robert Macfarlane and Claudia Rankine.

The exhibition was followed by a live event in The Poetry Library where poets Vahni Capildeo, Hannah Silva and James Wilkes read new works specially created in response to the open day and the objects featured. Read a poem from each of the poet's below to get a taste of the one-off event.

Image credit: James Hoff

Vahni Capildeo, 'The End of The Poem: Ten Endings (Tendings)' Parts 1, 2, 9 & 10


The end of the poem
The end of the poem happened before
The end of the poem happened before it
The end of the poem happened before it began
The end of the poem accumulates
The end of the poem culminates
The end of the poem fulminates
The end of the poem accumulates tales.
It queues. It comes late. It tails
off. And on. And anon.


The end of the poem happened before it began,
when I was not but in the eye of an audience
I. It is done. The poem is Trinidadian,
is double x chromosomed, is one hundred and fifty cm,
is creatively crushing on a dead Scottish man
and imagines itself in medieval Italian
and is none of I, Lord have mercy, it is not what I am.


For anaphora
is a way to bring a poemlike poem into being
For anaphora
is on the forehead of the poemgolem the alpha
For anaphora
will enter and exit the cloaca of the city
For anaphora
will do any task, will do and go far, and will do
For anaphora
is an amphora <<>> thieved in the agora <<>> is a spit in the hole man and turn again <<>> is because I do not hope to wine again <<>> or dip and roll back <<>> I will itemize the poemgolems as all, all having brakes of clay <<>
For anaphora
is a good start
is a starling, is a nénuphar
is too pretty and not so smart
is a playground erasure
is consistently enraptured
is a poemgolem
with no agenda
with no gender
unless you assign it
unless you sign it


finalement this disallowed love lexicon
lastgasp words from the constellation saloon
downy retraumatized ears still for oiling
in rituals of silence animally undone

Hannah Silva, 'the body gets'

Hannah Silva is known for her innovative explorations of form, voice and language in performance. Her response to the materials involved giving the books to the audience and asking them to pick out certain lines. She then collated these and made them into a sound recording. Click here to visit Facebook and see a larger version of this image.

Collage of quotes from Caroline Bergvall, Claudia Rankine, Dodie Bellamy and Edwin Morgan, photocopied, treated and assembled by James Wilkes for a live performance at The End of the Poem, 8/11/15

Click here to visit Facebook and see a larger version of this image.

You can listen to a recording of the event on our Soundcloud page

Photographs taken by Harpreet Kalsi www.thatthingyoupluck.com

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