Friday, 25 November 2011

Just a [not so] little update

So, after one very keen poet getting back to me with a small collection of their work I'm very excited about this project - even more so that before.

I have 1000/2000 words down for the dissertation proposal [yay] which is a compulsory essay where I explain my project, possible problems and discuss my ideas for assessment and marking, all of which I think are slowly beginning to fall into place. I'm literally buzzing about this because I thought I'd be terrible at writing it and it's one reason why I decided to steer clear of an 8000 word written dissertation (I know it's small compared to some papers) but I think the way that I'm planning to lay my assessments out will actually amount to a lot more than that. I plan to keep this blog going as a dumping ground for sources and the like but then have a physical portfolio to be marked and assessed, with two reflective essays; one around the time of the Bath Lit. Fest. and the other at the end of the project.

I have also been thinking about other places that poetry has been used in adverts and I had an answer right in front of me all along: The Tube. Over the years there has been a great increase in poetry being used in the poster adverts around the Tube in London, not all them relating directly to London, or to travelling; some of them are just beautiful pieces of writing. During my poetry module last year I bought Best Poems on the Undergound, an anthology editied by Gerard Benson, Judith Chernaik and Cicley Herbert (Available from here.) Judith Chernaik was the bright spark that decided to begin this project in 1986 and they are changed around three times a year. Here's what TfL have to say on the subject and here's the Random Poem of the Day, as well as having a full poem archive.

Here's one image of how they are displayed around The Undergound, you can just image this sitting above your head as you speed along to your destination:

The illustration on this poster actually differs from the one that has been published within my copy of Best Poems on the Undergound but both are suitably fitting to the poem (the one in the book being of a man sitting down). It's a poem about death and how we learn to embrace the parting of others but it's also about power - 'I SIT DOWN' shows a command over his own actions as if even in a busy city he will still be his own person whereas 'BOOMS' in capital letters suggests a great deal of force behind the noise of the bell, support by the description of it being 'great'. It's a very sensual poem in that respect as it depicts perfectly the smell of the cedar wood and churchyard whilst using very concise language, giving the reader a sense of the atmosphere within the St. Botolph Churchyard. the use of the word 'toddling' is very interesting and playful as well, contrasts against the ideas of power from earlier in the poem as it's a movement that suggests unsteadiness and childishness - someone who is not so in control of their actions.

Call me romantic, but this is one of my favourite poems in the book and it's the thought I'm going to end this post with.

She Tells Her Love

She tells her love while half asleep,
   In the dark hours
      With half-words whispered low:

As Earth stirs in her winter sleep
   And puts out grass and flowers
      Despite the snow,
      Despite the falling snow.

Robert Greaves (1895-1985) 2

1. Betjeman, J., 'City', [online] Available from:  [accessed on: 25/11/2011]

2. Greaves, R., 'She Tells Her Love'., In: Best Poems on the Underground, ed. Benson, G., Chernaik, J. and Herbert, C., London: Phoenix 2010 pg.107

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

We're slowly getting somewhere!

All right lads so we're off the starting block. I've been in contact with a couple of poets, which is lovely, after some fabulous plugging from Tegan (@poppetpup) to which I'm very grateful for.

So I've got a couple of people that emails have been flying to and fro between and things are looking up for this little project.

Now, I've just got assemble my thoughts about it all and then knuckle down write my project proposal for this - it might even have a structure then!

Some more research on the way - just compiling some notes, ideas and references.

If you're a passing poet, drop me a line:

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

So I had a little wobble...

Yes, I'm afraid to say that I have actually been debating killing this project for about a week now. However, the alternative I had just wouldn't have worked, not that the people involved are entirely aware of this yet, but they soon will be.

A friend of mine (@poppetpup) is co-ordinating the opening night of The Bath Lit Fest 2012 for her Creative Enterprise Project and has asked for people to help her with projects to happen on the night and I just couldn't resist being involved. For it I thought of falling to my other idea for a dissertation roughly titled "The Bath Book Review" but everything that it encompassed would be too much of a high-risk task for something as important as my degree. So I have returned, like a beaten wife, back to this glorious poetry project with a new, determined fire in my belly. The Book Review idea would have involved an already used idea of the general public (not journalists and critics) writing reviews of the book they were reading or had just finished, then collating these reviews and having some way of them being posted to a website and bookshops involved and oh, it was quite the pantomime. This a truncated view of the idea as there are many other factors of it that make it immensely tricky to achieve in general and in the timescale I have.

Alongside this, the main reason for coming back to this project is actually because I spoke to my parents about it. I have always been able to turn to them when I needed help and they came through for me again; something that I am lucky to have and shall always be grateful for, but, I digress. I set out before them my two ideas: This project the and alternative idea of the reviews. My gut instinct told me to follow through on this one and, agreeing with me, they helped me to see it from a slightly different perspective; it's time work backwards.

What is it that I want to achieve?
To make poetry more accessible to the everyday person.

How have I chosen to do this?
By converting poetry into film, which then be shown as an advert.

How will I go about combining this with the Bath Lit Fest 2012 and why?
Why? This project, even from it's earliest flickers of life, has been about Bath so why not grab a chance to combine it with the annual Lit Fest and really get the fires burning? And I shall combine them by having a sort of preview for the lit fest of my poetical film, which will then be screened at a later date. (Although I need to confirm this with a few people first) As this is my general dumping ground for everything that happens I wanted to write it up first - everything is still flexible at this stage.

And so I now have a slightly new structure of how I was the project to unfold and what I want the final product(s) to be. I also feel slightly more confident about how I'm going to go about the filming, too, which is a bonus. I do, however, need to get everything approved before I post about that. But all in good time.

So I think that this is all that I can really say at the moment because I'm tied by other people and sitting down and actually getting on with writing my proposal that's due in next month.

Time to get emailing.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Just a little splash of research

So things are finally getting rolling. I have a dissertation tutor and I've had a quick "how to" of how I get this started so here we go!

Since having this idea I have been aware that I am not the only one to combine the idea of poetry and advertising, in fact it is quite a popular combination. However, the obvious focus of those adverts are on their product, with the poem/poet being a by-product and tool that is shown to highlight the actual product being sold, whilst raising a secondary aware for itself. 

I have found a couple of articles that discuss the matter of how poetry has been used previously within advertising and how it has been received by the poets and the public alike. One very useful article on this from The Guardian website posted about two years ago, just after a McDonalds advert and one for Cathedral City cheese were aired using poetry (both below), the main basis of the article still holds fast; poetry is still very much in the public eye, even if we don't know it. Leo Hickman went as far as to interview some poets to gain a reaction on the fact that poetry had been used within an advert, finding that some poets feel that it has a tendency to "degrade" the poem, or song, if it is used with disrespect to the art form and/or the poet. Whilst other poets enjoy the fact that have been commissioned to write a befitting poem for their product such as Nick Toczek, who wrote a poem for a Prudential advert, "[h]e welcomes the exposure that advertising offers poetry"1. This mixed reaction from some poets alone seems to have shaken up the mix of the ancient medium of poetry whilst combining it with more modern uses of film, tv and the tool of capitalist society; advertising.

The examples mentioned in the article are here:

The second article I found (which I read first) actually disappointed me by being something almost like plagiarism of Hickman's article, just making general assumptions about how poets feel rather than actually interviewing them himself. I think if you read the two articles you'll agree; that man should not be allowed to be a journalist.

But I digress. As aforementioned in Hickman's article, Centre Parcs used the poem 'Leisure' - W.H. Davies to promote their relaxing holiday parcs around Europe. This is an advert that personally I have remembered mostly due to the cinematography mirroring the reoccurring line within the poem of "We have no time to stand and stare"l. 2 2.
The scenes follow the pattern of:
  1. Moving images
  2. Stills
  3. The camera pans around the scene
  4. Action is continued
  5. New scene and next phrase of the poem appear. 
The only difference in in the last scene is it begins as a still and then becomes a moving image, reflecting how the parc is a place where you do have time to stand and stare because you're on holiday, whilst also showing the beauty and activities that are within the parc. The poem itself is a contemplation on the beauty that is all around us, but we don't see it because of being wrapped up in our own lives "full of care" and so it can pass us by. Although Bates UK, the production company behind the advert, chose to truncate the poem by missing out the personification of Beauty in the lines

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night:
No time to turn at Beauty's glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance:
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began?
                                                               ll.7-12 3
In doing so, Bates UK have lost the beauty of the poem itself by cutting out a literary technique that allows for the imagination to explore the vision W.H. Davies is trying to create and have lost some of the beauty of the art form, and selling the public an adapted form of the poem; a white lie. Perhaps this is a sign of the disrespect that Roger McGough was referring to in Hickman's article.

1.Hickman, L., 'The Rise of Poetry in Advertising" In: The Guardian, 2009 [Online] Available from: [accessed on: 2.11.2011]

2. Daves, W.H., 'Leisure', EnglishVerse.Com, 2006 [Online] Available from: [accessed on: 2.11.2001] l. 2

3. Ibid. ll. 7-12