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 . . .


Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Tracking Down A Missing Title

So. If you've been reading up on the previous antics of our Itinerant Librarian, via our Europe ConVerses blog, you'll know that in November last year we hopped on over to Belgium with the library for the Nacht De Powezie in Antwerp. We did a 12 hour shift working our way up and down a huge squatted former bathhouse, signing up members galore at this amazing all night poetry gig, organised splendidly by the fabulous Erwin the AntiStressPoweet. During our night meander, one of our new members took off with a book and despite legging it round the building several times, we were able to neither locate him nor the title he had borrowed. This became known as our first ever CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE NON RETURNED LIBRARY ITEM. So what's a librarian to do when your loving poetry item from travelling library selection goes missing? That's a tricky one. Especially when said item is in Antwerp, said librarian is in London slash San Francisco and said library continues to travel and expand (btw, for those in the know, we've dumped the rucksack and now have 2 suitcases as the donations are coming in thick and fast!)

We have had only one previous NEAR LIBRARY NON RETURNED ITEM MISS, which was in Vienna, when we were installed at Cafe Wuk, and a rather confused, if delighted, Viennese woman attempted to walk off, well actually, she was with a bike, so I think wheeled off is strictly nearer the truth, with our bilingual German-English edition of 'The Selected Works of English Romantics'. We had to run after her and explain that our library operated slightly different lending rules than she might be normally used to. Her response was to insist that she must surely be able to borrow 'For forty days! Forty days!" She said this phrase a lot. I actually wondered what library she had ever joined. Some biblical one in Nevada? Anyway. We did get our book back that time.

Back to Antwerp. We tried to email our new member to track down the book. We did not have his email address. Slight flaw. We did manage to find a blog he seemed to post to, so we left a comment on it, asking for the return of our book. We emailed other people from the night, whose emails we did have (phew!). We posted to our blog in the hope that someone, somewhere, knew this member and slash or had seen this book in Antwerp. Nothing doing. Until today.

We just received this email, three months after we left Antwerp:

Dear Sara Wingrate,

I only now saw a posting you made on my weblog concerning the book 'The Heart of the Ancient Balcony' by Glyn Pursglove, I borrowed from you at De nacht van de Powezie. It is true that I borrowed it, but I didn't take it with me. I left it in the building.

Maybe you should contact XXXXXX if you want to find the book back. I hope he can help you out.

Kind greetings,


So. Well, at least Xavier got back in touch. Under Library ByeByeLaw 10c, we'd like to note that:
"10. No person who:

a) after the end of the period for which it was lent has the charge or possession of a book borrowed from the library or from any body my body all our bodies or persons acting on behalf of the Library Authority, and

b) after having been requested in writing, or verbally threatened and/or stalked by the Library Authority to deliver it up to the Authority, has failed to do so within a period of fourteen days and fourteen nights consecutively and a night cap after the date of the request, and

c) has not paid to the Library Authority in respect thereof an agreed poem by way of compensation.

shall, except with consent of the Librarian, borrow any further books from the library or be entitled to a cup of tea."

We've just emailed Xavier and requested a compensatory poem. In the meantime, he's still banned from borrowing books. He probably doesn't mind as I have a feeling he's not currently in the vicinity of the travelling library. But one day soon, he may be!
We would like to at least thank him for going to the trouble of letting us know where our book might be.

In the meantime, if anyone has a SPARE copy of 'The Heart of the Ancient Balcony' by Glyn Pursglove, we'd love to have it rejoin our collection.

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