The Poetry Installations (2000)

The Poetry Installations

The Poetry Installations

The Poetry Installations

The Poetry Installations

A sound and visual exhibition documenting the work of some of the hundreds of poets in residence over the UK during the Poetry Places scheme, funded by the Arts Council’s “Arts for Everyone” budget.¬†The Poetry Installations¬† was a semi-permanent installation at the Poetry Cafe at 22 Betterton Street in London and was on display for 4 years.

The exhibition used a range of materials to work in conjunction with the delivery of recorded poetry. The installations included:

Documentation of Kate Clanchy’s residency with the Red Cross; a piece incorporating an intravenous drip, where each falling drop of water would trigger a successive word from her poem.

Two Poems: Two identical books, one displaying a hand-written poem by Roger McGough, the other presenting a set of blank pages. A continuous soundtrack emanated from the second book through a concealed speaker conveying the rhythmic scraping sounds of the first poem being written.

Exchange, a large telephone exchange of 200 sockets and 2km of electrical wire. Viewers were each given a telephone handset enabling them to plug into one of the poems recorded by phone from the many residencies across the UK.


The Poetry Cafe
22 Betterton Street,


The poets currently documented in the installations:
David Hart at Worcester Cathedral
Eleanor Cooke at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens
Kevin McCann at Wymott Prison
Eva Salzman at Bromley by Bow Healthy Living Centre
Tobias Hill at London Zoo
Peter Sansom at Marks and Spencer
Patience Agbabi at a Tattoo Studio in Holloway
Jane Duran at various London based Schools
Kate Clanchy with the Red Cross
Roger McGough, B.T. Poet in Residence
Steve Popple, Arco gas platform worker
Don Paterson from Edinburgh

Other poems featured:
The Sea by R. S. Thomas
Not Waving but Drowning by Stevie Smith
Dover Beach by Matthew Arnold
The Fourteenth Canto from The Sinking of the Titanic by Hans Magnus Enzensberger.
The Poetry Installations were commissioned by the Poetry Society