The Itinerant Poetry Library

Since May 2006, The Itinerant Poetry Librarian has been travelling the world with a library of ‘Lost & Forgotten’ poetry, installing the library & librarian and archiving the sounds, poems and poetry of the cities, peoples and countries she meets. Welcome to the project's blog . . . Our Itinerant Poetry Librarian lives wherever her library is - come join the cause!

FAQs: • Yes we carry our entire life and the library with us as we go • Yes, it is quite heavy • No, we're not mad. As Charles Simic said, 'But what if poets are not crazy?' That's the spirit boyo!

We exist to: remind people of the importance of free public libraries...subvert mainstream channels of distribution...remind people that access to knowledge should be free and not dependent upon economic wealth hierarchies... show people that poetry/art can provide answers to questions we ask of life...experiment in existing outside of 'the market' – thereby, instead, investing in social capital, social innovation and community.

We aim to make life taste better. Word.

Where have we been . . . ?

(2006) Amsterdam, Berlin, Dresden, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Munich, Paris, Barcelona, London, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, Norwich, York, Antwerp, (2007-2008) San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Leipzig, (2009) Ulm, Chemnitz, Rotterdam, Huntingdon, Callander, (2010) Cork, St. Andrews . . . Where'd you like us to go? Can you help? Get in touch!

What We Are Up To Right Now . . .


Friday, 7 July 2006

Goodbye Vienna . . . Hello Budapest!

Yes. We have made it to Budapest. Just. Our train from Vienna left at 15.45. We got to the platform at 15.43. We also had to ‘borrow’ ten euros from our wonderful couchsurfing host, Christina, in order to buy the one way ticket, thanks Christina, we’ll send you some exciting stuff from erm, Hungary!? So. Goodbye, and GoodLuck Vienna. We had a blast. We’d also like to take a moment to mention a few Viennese wonders. These included: a random final library installation day at the DELI in the Naschmarkt. A nice bald chap let us set up at 1pm - see, we arrived on our own set time, wonders will never cease - and we set out the library in the relative shade of a table outside the cafe, in the middle of the hustling, bustling Naschmarkt, which is a veritable cornucopia, or should that be feast?, of food. There were stalls down both the left and right hand sides of this long street, selling cheeses, olives, gorgeous Viennese pastries, you name, they had it, and we couldn’t afford it, but we looked and salivated anyway. So. We are set up. We hold up our wonderful hand made and lettered i.e. permanent markered on a bit of paper signs, announcing ‘Biobliotheken fur Dichtung’ and bang . . . straight away two obviously highly intelligent Viennese citizens wander over and sign up. We are in business baby! So we sit with our books, and signs, and stamp pad and merrily while away a few hours signing up the odd library punter. And we mean odd. It is going along swimmingly until two separate incidents present somewhat small challenges. First up, is a bespectacled Vienna lady, slightly sagging in the large chest area, who wanders over in an interested way then proceeds to rip off our posters advertising the library, then turns to us and says ‘danke’ and walks off. Yeah, thanks lady. Peeling off our small advertising hoard really did us a favour. Anyway, after she had left we stuck ‘em back up again so no harm done. The next challenge was possibly more random and direct. A man in striped red and white tights, a red cape, and red and white skull cap walks down our aisle and suddenly holds up a large poster above his head. It reads ‘Kulture fur alle’ i.e. if your German is really that bad, ‘Culture For All’. A-hah, our librarian thinks, a direct challenger. She mulls over swiftly the correct librarian duelling technique, realises she hasn’t sharpened her pencil recently (quite lucky considering prior Viennese pencil experience - see earlier blog post) and instead goes for holding up a poster which says ‘Bibliotheken Fur Alle’. Laughs all round from watching Viennese cafe socialites, and a confused man in red and white tights. Librarian 1. Cape Man Nil. If we were keeping score that is. Which we ain’t as that would be a bit like football wouldn’t it . . . indeed. Swiftly moving on. So, two direct challenges later and we have arrived at the startling total of five new library members by around 4pm on Thursday, July 6th. Then disaster strikes. In the form of a heavy-set Turkish dude who turns out to be the chef of the place, and he’s just clocked on for work, doesn’t give a toffee that his earlier comrade gave us permission to be at his cafe, and promptly turns up at our table and rants a little in Viennese German, points and laughs at our office sign and then gets the waitress to translate into English that we must leave. Now. At this point the woman at the table next to our library turns to us, asks if she can become a member and sternly tells the chef that what he is looking at is ART. If you say so Lady, thinks our librarian, and swiftly whips out a library card and in full view of said chef stamps the card, joins the nice Lady as a member, then holds up the OPEN sign, flips it over to reveal the word CLOSED X, packs her books and gets the hell outta there. Vienna, it was great, we hope to visit some time soon again . . .

So . . . on the train to Budapest today, Friday 7th July, and we plug into the nice free electricity and edit some audio. Yes we know we are taking forever, but we do have about 20 hours of interviews, music, sound clipsjavascript:void(0) and images to edit from Germany, Prague and now Vienna. As a pro-fresh-nal travelling poetry librarian and part time sound editor cum art director type thang, this takes a while. But we are on the case. In the meantime, here’s a bit of a Greatest Hits of the tour so far . . . enjoy.

A Track by Berlin musician Dennis

A Track by Berlin musician Ichier

The old Berlin Metro map showing how the wall cut off your stop...

Flyposting in Berlin. Heh heh.

A Berlin cat

A dead chicken . . . Art innit . . .

The art also moved . . .

When you put your euros in it . . .

A lovely Dresden bus

An awesome Czech band we caught playing some damn fine folk, a track or two coming your way soon in our Prague podcast. The band is called Bran and you can check out their website

They played two awesome 45 minute sets at this tiny bar called Ralbinova Poeticka Hospudka, and the man taking tickets on the door was also one of the candidates in an upcoming Czech election.

A sign from a brothel in Prague. Don’t ask.

A famous Prague clock. Modern no?

Obviously you see Czech tanks everyday being carted by rail

Ah. What a nice view of Prague from their TV Tower

This is the Prague river I swam in

I start to feel a little like Mark Twain . . .

Hungarian biscuits!

Salman Rushdie in Hungarian!

And just to prove we really are in Hungary . . . have a sign!

We are incredibly excited about Budapest, not least because we have a ton of poets to interview, we have a cool place to set up the library already sorted out at TreeHugger Dan’s Bookstore, plus fame has struck in Hungary and we are doing a poetry reading at the Budapest Bardroom too. And not forgetting . . . tan tan tah rah . . . current New Library Members signed up as of leaving Vienna on Friday July 7th is . . . 72. Damn we’ve one persuasive li’l momma of a librarian on board. And we’ve sorted our blog all by ourselves. Wooooooohooooooo Hungary here we come . . .

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