Transport for London is aiming to use poetry to teach the capital’s commuters “poetiquette” and think twice about dropping litter, obstructing doors and other anti-social behaviour that contributes to travel delays on the tube.
From Monday until Friday a collection of London poets, including rising star Amy Acre will give recitals at some of London’s busiest train and tube stations as part of a wider TfL Travel Better London marketing campaign encouraging commuters to be more considerate towards their fellow travellers.
Poets in residence will be performing at nine London stations, including Liverpool Street, Waterloo, London Bridge and Leicester Square, at lunchtime and during the early evening commute for the entire week, with further pop-up performances around the TfL network. TfL’s week of “poetiquette” recitals coincides with National Poetry Day on 3 October.
Long tradition of poetry
The London public transport authority, which has a long tradition of promoting poetry on its tube network, has also set up a Tumblr page which invites travellers to submit four-to-six-line poems inspired by their daily commute.
Acre said: “I think people when they’re on the tube are so in that zone of huddling in and just getting through it and getting to work. It’s nice to give people something a bit different and maybe inspire them and make them think in a different way, even if it’s just for a minute. This project is a great opportunity to get poetry out there to more people that maybe would never listen to it and it wouldn’t occur to them that they might like it.” The nine poets will be writing topical verses and giving recitals in busking spots at their local station, with Acre performing at London Bridge. The other poets giving twice-daily recitals are Amy McAllister (performing at Angel), Jacqueline Saphra (Canary Wharf), Sarah Wardle (Embankment), Sophie Herxheimer (Knightsbridge), Richard Purnell (Hammersmith), Joolz Sparkes (Leicester Square), Deanna Rodger (Liverpool Street) and Dan Simpson (Waterloo).
The recitals kick off a wider TfL marketing campaign that will also feature poster advertising across London public transport including tube, bus, rail, trams and the Docklands Light Railway.
Poster ads will feature drawings by graphic artists illustrating poetry urging commuters not to drop litter, obstruct train doors and if they are taken ill on the underground, not to push the alarm button but wait and get off at the next station.
TfL said it was launching the “poetiquette” campaign to cut down on 400 hours of tube train delays a year, which it said could be avoided by small changes to commuters’ habits.— © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2013