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Poems on the Underground

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Every season, six poems are selected to be displayed in tube carriages across London.

A new set of Poems on the Underground will be posted in tube cars for four weeks from June 15th 2015. The six poems continue our year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of the great Irish poet W B Yeats, with one of his best-loved early poems, ‘When You Are Old’, reflecting his lifelong love of the actress Maud Gonne. As part of our related display of Irish poetry, we are also featuring ‘Had I not been awake’, the opening poem from Human Chain, Seamus Heaney’s final collection – in which the poet, long bereft of his childhood religious faith, rediscovers meaning and mystery in the natural world.

Two poems by poets new to our tube displays – Anna Szabo and Agha Shahid Ali -- reflect the wide-ranging interests of George Szirtes and Imtiaz Dharker, who have recently joined the editorial committee of Poems on the Underground.

Anna T Szabó, born in Transylvania in 1972, has lived in Hungary since 1987and is one of the leading younger Hungarian poets. Her poem 'Labour Ward' remarkably captures the direct experience of childbirth, even as it is happening.

Agha Shahid Ali (1948-2001), born in Kashmir, was educated at the University of Kashmir and the Hindu College, University of Delhi. He held teaching positions at nine universities and colleges in India and the United States. In his poem ‘Stationery’ he miraculously lifts the poem out of the seemingly mundane 'cottage industry', paper-making, to the exquisite longing in the last line.

‘Cuts’, by Sam Riviere, a poet also new to our displays, offers a wry look at the troubles of contemporary Britain. ‘Westron wynde when wilt thou blow’ is a repeat from one of our very earliest displays, a famous 16th century poem which connects in interesting ways with the central image of Heaney’s late poem.

Poems on the Underground, which has been featuring poems on London tube trains since 1986, is supported by Transport for London and the British Council. The programme has inspired similar displays on public transport in cities worldwide, from New York and Paris to Moscow and Shanghai. Posters are designed by Tom Davidson, and are available through the Poetry Society and London Transport Museum.

Current publication: Poems on the Underground (Penguin paperback, 2015), including over 250 poems from our past collections, is available at all good bookshops.

Read past releases of Poems on the Underground here

 

 

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