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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Jelley

Poetry Passports for the Tarka Trail Poetry Pin in 2019

It is the depth of winter now but plans have begun in earnest to properly develop the North Devon Poetry Pin trail (The Tarka Trail) for spring and summer 2019. The light touch of geolocating text has always been a key ingredient for Poetry Pin projects, the ‘leave no trace’ mantra is well established and Poetry Pin has always embraced this ethos whole heartedly. So when poems are geotagged and then searched, the only impressions on the landscape should be the footprints of the inquisitive. There is no need for more as we all carry the tech required in our pockets, and as Poetry Pin is powered by web app technology it is easy to access and begin the poetry hunt.

‘So when poems are geotagged and then searched, the only impressions on the landscape should be the footprints of the inquisitive.’

But curiously this very light touch, with no trail signs or notices to catch your attention is also its weakness. Last summer the Poetry Boxes caught walkers and riders eyes and they penned over 600 poems, but the boxes were there in full view, out in the field, neatly tethered to benches and grabbing everyones attention. When this ‘sign-post’ is removed, how do you draw attention to the project? How do you go about raising the profile and promoting all these amazing poems people have written, and secondly encouraging more to write and geotag their new poems to the trail?

Initial investigations last year revealed that signage along the trail (which goes against the above I know but we did ask) would not be allowed, the land management team of North Devon are having trouble keeping up with their core tasks, never mind me adding to them. Also, Beaford Arts, the main project partners have signed up to Plastic Free North Devon campaign (which is brilliant and we are totally behind) but this would create a problem too when it comes to welding plastic Poetry Pin logos to the trail or commissioning vinyl banners for the trail gates.

' . . . and there will be stamping stations along the trail too.'

So whats the solution and how will we get people hunting out the poetry, well with Poetry Passports of course! We have been wrestling with this over the winter and think the Poetry Passports might be just the ticket (almost literally!) The concept runs like this, create Poetry Passport booklets – lots of them to be handed out for free along the trail, cycle hire, information centres, local schools and of course the cafes on the trail. Of course passports need stamping, so there will be stamping stations along the trail too, most likely in the cafes which are already keen to support the venture. Inside the booklets there will be simple instructions to access the Poetry Pin poems and also how to add your new compositions to the trail, we may include space for notes and new poems aswell.

‘ . . . responding to landscape within the landscape is the gallery of the future’

We won’t know if all this will actually transfer the audience from the analogue of physical poetry boxes to the more ethereal digital system of Poetry Pin, but there is only one way to find out, and thats to get on with it. Which is exactly what we’ll be doing over the coming months and since we’ve just received confirmation of financial support from the Arts Council England we will get the opportunity to deliver. This means that we will be running more Peddling Poetry Rambling workshops, the passports will be printed and distributed and Mr Jelley will be along the trail to entice passing riders to engage and respond.

The details of new workshops will be promote primarily through the brilliant Beaford Arts web page and portal, so check here to find out more.

So spread the word and get writing to tag poetry to place along the Tarka Trail it is open right now, yes right now – open this link on your phone then click allow for the GPS to work and go hunt and tag poetry along the trail. The greatest promotion is always word of mouth and we are passionate that writing words and responding to landscape within the landscape is the gallery of the future.

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