Poems on the Underground Celebrates World Poetry Day
A huge thank you to the poets who have recorded poems for Poems on the Underground to celebrate World Poetry Day.
You can hear all the recordings here World Poetry Day Recordings
Paula Meehan, Irish poet and playwright, reads her poem ‘Seed’, perfect for this time of year
Seed read by Paula Meehan
As we mark the 160th anniversary of London Underground, a new set of Poems on the Underground goes live on London Underground and Overground cars on Monday 27 February 2023, for four weeks
Londoners will be greeted by a favourite Shakespearean heroine, Perdita, as she welcomes the flowers of spring: ‘Daffodils, that come before the swallow dares, and take the winds of March with beauty’ – from The Winter’s Tale.
Chaucer appears alongside Shakespeare in his ballad Truth (‘Flee from the press and dwell with truthfulness’) – as relevant today as it was in the 14th century.
Four poets new to the tube are also featured, in poems of love, separation and exile:
What I know of the sea by İlhan Sami Çomak, a Kurdish poet writing from a Turkish prison, where he has been held for 29 years. His poems are translated by Caroline Stockford. ‘What I know of love is so little! Yet I’m constantly thinking of you!’
Bond by Diana Anphimiadi, a Georgian poet of Greek ancestry, translated by Natalia Bukia-Peters and Jean Sprackland: ‘When I leave, your words follow – you are mine! You know I’ll always come back.’
For My Wife, Reading in Bed by the Scottish poet John Glenday: ‘What else do we have but words and their absences / to bind and unfasten the knotwork of the heart?’
[Clearance] by the Zambian-born British poet Kayo Chingonyi, a light-hearted take on dispossession: ‘What need have we for these ornaments, old textbooks, the wedding dress you never wore?’
Poems on the Underground is supported generously by TfL, Arts Council England and The British Council.
Poetry offers hope and a voice to speak in difficult times.
I Sing of Change by Niyi Osundare
You took away all the oceans and all the room by Osip Mandelstam
’25 February 1944′ by the poet Primo Levi translated by Eleonora Chiavetta
Jean Binta Breeze RIP
A Picture for Tiantian’s fifth birthday by Bei Dao translated by Bonnie S. McDougal and Chen Maiping
Poems on the Underground has been offering poetry to London’s tube travellers for thirty five years. You can read some of our favourite poems here, displayed in their original posters. We shall be regularly adding more poems from our collection, verses new and old, familiar and unfamiliar, serious and comic. We hope you will enjoy poems which have entertained millions of London commuters, inspiring similar programmes across the world.
Our New Poems for Autumn 2022 were on London Underground trains in November.
You can see our new set of poems for autumn 2022 here
O wild West Wind, thou breath of Autumn’s being,
Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead
Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,
We are delighted to offer tube travellers a new autumn set of poems on the theme of our interconnectedness to the natural world, to our families and to the wider world
The poems circulated on London Underground and Overground trains for 4 weeks from November 7th.
To end our celebration of the bicentenary of Shelley’s death, we feature the first stanza of his greatest poem Ode to the West Wind.
Included too are Jackie Kay’s warm tribute to her parents as they set off for yet another anti-war protest and poems by four poets new to our programme, Jo Clement, Romalyn Ante, Kerry Shawn Keys and Cyril Wong
You can see our new set of poems for Summer 2022 here
‘My name is OZYMANDIAS, King of Kings:
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!’
We are delighted to offer tube travellers a new summer set of poems.
The poems circulated on London Underground and Overground trains for 4 weeks from July 18th.
Shelley’s sonnet Ozymandias, inspired by the Egyptian ruins at the British Museum, marks the bicentenary of the poet’s death on July 8th, 1822, aged 29.
Our international theme continues with famous lines by the 17th century Dean of St Pauls, John Donne: ‘No man is an island, entire of itself…’
Also featured: ‘Caterpillar’ by Guillaume Apollinaire, in a new version by the British poet and translator Robert Chandler.
An extract from War of the Beasts and the Animals by the dissident Russian poet Maria Stepanova, translated by Sasha Dugdale.
‘Ditches’ by the Irish poet Jessica Traynor.
‘Dei Miracole’ by the popular poet, playwright and broadcaster Lemn Sissay.
Our first set of poems in 2022 was circulating on Underground and Overground trains through February and March, with poems on love, music, and the coming of spring by Sasha Dugdale, Derek Walcott, Grace Nichols, Martin Bell and Raymond Antrobus.
We also introduced our year-long celebration of the bicentenary of the death of the Romantic poet P B Shelley with the last stanza of his Ode to the West Wind, with famous lines which resonate powerfully at this time: ‘O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?’
You can see our new set of poems for Spring 2022 here
A new set of poems circled London Underground trains throughout November 2021. Poems by the Scottish makar Jackie Kay and the distinguished Jamaican poet Linton Kwesi Johnson celebrate the enduring value of our closest human relationships. And well-loved poems by Keats and Hopkins, alongside new poems by Laurel Prizewinners Seán Hewitt and Sean Borodale, remind us of the glory and fragility of the natural world.
You can see our Autumn 2021 set of Poems on the Underground here
Our recent set of poems by an international range of poets was on London Underground cars throughout the summer of 2021
You can see our Summer 2021 set of Poems on the Underground here
In 2021 we also marked the bicentenary of London’s much -loved poet, John Keats, with a special display of posters at Hampstead Station and London Bridge Station
You can see our Poems to Celebrate Keats here
Listen to our World Poetry Day Recordings
You can download a copy of our Black History Month Leaflet here
You can download a copy of our London Poems on the Underground leaflet here
You can download a copy of our World Poems Leaflet here
You can see our War Poems on the Underground leaflet here
You can see our February Poems on the Underground leaflet here