Poetry Cairn (2017)

The Poetry Cairn was a project created for Lakes Alive Festival in September 2017.

The theme of the festival was ‘Cultural Landscapes’. Over the course of a morning, I invited passers-by to talk to me about poetry. What does poetry mean to you? People were then encouraged to write their answer on a stone and add it to the cairn, so that by the end of the morning, we had built a landscape marker of our own, marking people’s relationships to poetry.

Here are some of the things people said:

  • You can say anything you like in a poem.
  • Poems make me cry
  • collective wisdom
  • Poetry makes sense from muddle
  • how a person relates to the world around us
  • Evocative
  • Poetry says the things other words can’t.

As with many of my guerrilla poetry projects, much of the joy in this one came out of the conversations that the project sparked.

I had multiple people come up to me to tell me that they wrote poetry. Some even recited some of their poems for me. Two women said they didn’t really know much about poetry, but on deeper enquiry it transpired that one of them knew a John Hegley poem off by heart. Children told me about poems they’d read and written in school. One girl told me she’d once written a poem written for Christmas, at which point her mum confessed that she’d memorised the whole poem, and proudly recited it for us.

Here are a few photos from the day: