man watching a poetry video

Poetry scene news

Global Poetry System | 10-Dec-09

Southbank Centre has recently launched a brand new poetry website. It's an online collection of poetry which is organised not by author, or title, or movement, but by positions on a world map. Each user that uploads a poem is asked to define it by placing a pin at a location in the world to which the poem has significance. The web site, Global Poetry System, launched on National Poetry Day 2009, and week by week, poetry pins are appearing all over the world.

On Global Poetry System - GPS - users are free to upload poems expressed not just as written words, but also in the form of video recordings, sound recordings, and even photographs. Lemn Sissay, the poet in residence at Southbank Centre who inspired the creation of the website, is adamant that poetry doesn't just exist in books, it's also "in the land", and is therefore amenable to being captured in a variety of ways. Above all, GPS wants people to notice the poetry that is all around them - the poetry that's scratched into park benches, graffiti'd onto brick walls, etched into memorials, overhead at bus stations - and capture it, by whatever medium they might, and tell the world where it came from, by uploading it onto the GPS map.

The site presents a new, fresh take on poetry, which perhaps might encourage more people to embrace the art form. By allowing for uploads of different types of media, and by leaving the interpretation as to what constitutes poetry open, (is it graffiti? a football chant? a nursery rhyme?) users are more able to develop a personal relationship with poetry, as they see it.

There is scope for each upload to be as crafted or as spontaneous as the user likes, as meaningful or as frivolous. GPS is a user-generated experience, so what the map comes to represent is entirely in the control of those that contribute. The site is bound to grow and develop as more people sign up. However, it will always reflect poetry's relationship to place, and celebrate this in a way that's fun and welcoming to everyone.

GPS is a way of navigating your world. Click here to begin your journey.

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