Every so often a little gem of an idea catches our eye and this week we discovered The Poetry Box Project - a very special venture running in Exmoor, over the last three Summers.
Tin boxes, with little notebooks inside, were left out in various spots (in Dunster over this last Summer) and people passing by were simply invited to “Draw, read or write inside, and leave for the next to scribe and confide”. Do you know what? Over 6,000 people did exactly that… left their contributions whether beautiful, serious, funny or silly :)
The project itself was created by poet Christopher Jelley, supported by the Lynmouth Pavillion Project and with Exmoor being home to one of our most famous romantic poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it seems fitting that so many people have been inspired to leave their own thoughts in these little boxes of glinting grey.
We felt it was such a cool little idea that we chatted to Christopher earlier this week, to find out a little bit more about it and get his Four Thoughts.
1. Can you tell us about the inspiration behind the Poetry Box Project?
I was working on the Coleridge Way a few years ago and was placing boxes with stories in them that were started by published authors. The idea then was that people would either add to the story, or read what had been written. When I approached Lynmouth Pavilion, they suggested poetry rather than stories which was a stroke of genius. It became a lot more accessible than a story.
2. Is there any one message or poem left in a Poetry Box that has particularly touched you?
No, to be honest. There are loads - especially the poems about partners walking for their other halves who are too infirm to walk with them. I like the funny and odd ones too, but that’s just my sense of humour!
3. What do you hope the lasting effect of the project will be on our local communities?
The project was really a simple thing and was never intended to do more than ask people to write in the boxes, It’s gone way beyond this now and will be turned into a book to be published in October - but it works because it’s humble and simple. The book itself will be very honest. There’ll be no transcript and it’ll feature 34 pages of poems for each year of the project.
4. Tell us a secret about The Poetry Box Project that no-one else knows!
We have very few books go missing, but two from Dunster disappeared this year. They were then anonymously returned to Lynmouth Pavilion. The returners left no name or contact details, but the postal address was France. The had actually put the two books together very beautifully, so it turned into one!
If you'd like to find out more, there’s an exhibition about the Poetry Boxes at Lynmouth Pavillion this month so that’s the place to be.
The book (published by Fly Catcher Press) will also definitely be on our Christmas list! You’ll be able to pick up a copy from the Lynmouth Pavilion, Exmoor Visitor Centres and Number Seven Dulverton. It’ll be priced at £12.
So all that remains for us to say, is we hope you enjoyed reading… and have a cool day! (See what we did there? Sad isn’t it!! :)
P.S. All photos in the blog were taken by Christopher Jelley who said we could use them - thanks Chris.