Projects

Poems on the Underground

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

War Poems on the Underground are on display in London Underground cars from October 6th through November, with additional posters on London Overground and selected station sites in a major expansion of our programme, supported by TfL.  Poems by English, French, Italian and Austrian poets, written during the heat of war service, stress themes of brotherhood and reconciliation, and the ways in which 'we said goodbye to a whole epoch' (Apollinaire).

Read past releases of Poems on the Underground here

Our summer set of Poems on the Underground celebrated the centenary of Dylan Thomas, with the opening stanza of his famous autobiographical poem 'Fern Hill and poems by five Welsh poets:  Dannie Abse, Owen Sheers, Gillian Clarke, Gwyneth Lewish and Gerard Benson.

2014 began with a Greek Poems on the Underground series. Six poems by Greek, British and Irish poets were displayed in London Underground carriages in honour of the Greek EU presidency and in celebration of the influence of Greek culture on our poetry, prose and art. Sappho and Anyte of Tegea, Constantine Cavafy, Byron, Keats and Theo Dorgan were all featured. The first poster, a bilingual representation of Sappho and Antyte of Tegea, is displayed below.

Below is the summer 2013 set of Poems on the Underground, continuing a year-long celebration of the 150th year of London Underground. The poems evoke a broad range of London places and sights, as imagined by poets with close London connections. The earliest poem is William Blake’s vision of Islington and Marylebone, Kentish Town and St Pancras transformed into a new Jerusalem. A 21st-century poem by the Ghanaian-born poet Grace Nichols presents an equally visionary image of one of London’s great peace marches, with ‘a holy multitude pouring / through the gates of Hyde Park.’ Other familiar London scenes include a traffic jam on the Strand; a nostalgic memory of cricket at Lord’s; an old man in Rotherhithe enjoying the breeze from the Thames. The Underground itself is represented in a vivid image of a train approaching the platform– part of a series of love poems by the London-born poet Andrew Waterman.

Poems on the Underground, founded in 1986, is supported by London Underground, Arts Council England and the British Council, which distributes the posters to its offices throughout the world.

Poems are selected by the writer Judith Chernaik and poets Gerard Benson and Cicely Herbert, with posters designed by Tom Davidson. Copies are available from the Poetry Society and London Transport Museum.

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