Poems on the Underground Celebrating World Poetry Day
Poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue, thought and peace.
Since 1986, Poems on the Underground has brought more than 600 poems, old and new, familiar and unfamiliar, to all who travel on London Underground.
For World Poetry Day, TfL Corporate Archives held an online celebration of the programme and its poems giving us the opportunity to be reminded of the beauty that surrounds us and of the resilience of the human spirit.
Poems on the Underground Recordings for World Poetry Day
Judith Chernaik, founder of Poems on the Underground, reads her poem ‘Tortoise,’ commissioned to represent the tortoise in ‘Carnival of the Animals’ by the French composer Saint-Saens
George Szirtes, Hungarian-born poet and translator and part of the Poems on the Underground team reads his own poem ‘Accordionist’ and a poem by the Kurdish poet Ilhan Sami Comak, ‘What I know of the sea’. Comak is a Kurdish poet who has been imprisoned in a Turkish prison for 29 years, as a ‘political activist,’ a charge never proven.
Accordionist read by George Szirtes
What I know of the sea by İlhan Sami Çomak read by George Szirtes
Imtiaz Dharker reading her poem ‘Carving’, and ‘A Portable Paradise’ by Roger Robinson the distinguished British writer, musician and performance poet with strong ties with Trinidad; his poem was on the tube last year. Imtiaz, a prize-winning poet with ties both with India and Pakistan, has been part of Poems on the Underground for the past 9 years.
Carving read by Imtiaz Dharker
A Portable Paradise by Roger Robinson read by Imtiaz Dharker
Paula Meehan, Irish poet and playwright, reads her poem ‘Seed’, perfect for this time of year
Seed read by Paula Meehan
Theo Dorgan, Irish writer, reads his poem based on many happy visits to Greece, ‘Bread Dipped in Olive Oil and Salt’
Valerie Bloom, (MBE for services to poetry) has published several popular volumes of poems for children and adults. She writes poetry in English and Jamaican patois for all ages, and has performed her work throughout the world, She reads ‘Sun a-shine, rain a-fall’
Sun a Shine by Rain a Fall read by Valerie Bloom
John Glenday, Scottish poet, reads his poem ‘For my Wife, Reading in Bed’
For my Wife, Reading in Bed read by John Glenday