Poems on the Metro

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The "Poems on the Metro" are back!

In March, Warsaw will accommodate the fifth edition of the "Poems on the Metro". During the entire month, the daily rides on the Warsaw public transport will gain a new, poetic face.

"Poems on the Metro" is a cultural initiative in the urban space which, after a four-year-long pause, will come back to Warsaw. The organiser of this year’s edition is the Warsaw cluster of the European National Institutes of Culture, EUNIC Warszawa and the City of Warsaw.

„This year’s fifth edition is unique for us“ – says dr Georg Blochmann, the president of EUNIC Warszawa and director of the Goethe-Institut in Warsaw – „Poems on the Metro are back because the residents of Warsaw wanted it – we managed to revive a project which is a perfect proof that the urban tissue and culture are completely able to complement each other.“ Tomasz Thun-Janowski, the director of the Cultural Office of the Warsaw City Hall, said, „we want culture to be a part of the residents' everyday lives. I hope that this encounter with poetry will be inspiring for those who live in Warsaw.“

The poems presented in this year’s campaign come from twenty European countries, from Spain and Portugal to Ukraine, Turkey and Kazakhstan. Polish poetry will be there as well. The choice of poets and poems was made by particular cultural institutions which make up EUNIC Warszawa, as well as, among others, The Wisława Szymborska Foundation and the Award Jury of the contest European Poet of Freedom.

In previous editions the project reached over half a million people taking the metro, using the internet and taking part in the additional events, specially organised for this occasion. The main aim of the initiative is popularising the work of European poets and enabling the general public to have contact with poetry in an unconventional place.

Fragments of poems will be presented over four weeks in the metro coaches on double-sided stickers on the couch windows, as well as on info screens in metro stations and on screens in the metro coaches and on busses. On top of that, they will be printed on postcards that will be laid out in cafes and cultural institutions in Warsaw.

Everyone who is interested in the project, can read the poetry on the website of the project – www.wierszewmetrze.eu. It is there where you can read full versions of the poems and short biographies of the poets and the translators.

On the website there will also be a contest “haiku for Warsaw”. Previous editions of the contest have been extremely popular.

Why on the Metro?

The city is a dynamic space, where people constantly move from one point to another during the day. In big urban areas, the metro is a perfect mean of communication. The underground route, devoid of interesting views, get the passengers interested in the posters and information on the Metro. When the project "Poems on the Metro" is on, literature gets hold of a place intended for an advertisment – it helps the recipient escape the daily routine and allows him/her to experiment a brief non-profit reflection, a concise contemplation and a lyrical travel to the world of contemporary poetry and inside our own imagination and sensitivity.

Key information
WHEN – March 2015
WHERE – Warsaw, on the Metro

European institutes of culture that are part of EUNIC Warszawa: Austrian Cultural Forum, Czech Centre, Danish Cultural Insitute, Instituto Cervantes, Embassy of Ireland, Embassy of Lithuania, Embassy of Malta, Goethe-Institut, National Audiovisual Institute (NinA), Camões I.P., Romanian Cultural Institute, Slovak Institute, Embassy of Switzerland, Hungarian Cultural Institute, British Council and Italian Cultural Institute.

Non-EUNIC partners:
Center of Turkish Culture – Yunus Emre Institute, European Poet of Freedom, Wisława Szymborska Foundation, Polish Literary Translators‘ Association, and Intermezzo – a Ukrainian festival of short literary forms.

The Warsaw Metro.


About "Poems on the Metro"

In 2008, on the initiative of the Book Institute and British Council in Warsaw, the idea of a unique cultural initiative in the urban space was born. The project’s aim was to promote contemporary European poetry and was called "Poems on the Metro".

The inspiration for the idea of placing poetry on the metro is the cyclical project called Poems on the Underground which has taken place since 1986 in London. Similar campaigns are or were conducted also in Dublin, Paris, New York, Barcelona, Stockholm, Brussels, Stuttgart and Moscow, among others.