Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Poetry in motion

Next month Christopher Jelley will be installing the next batch of Coleridge Way QR Code Poetry along the original 36 mile section of the trail. Last year this type of poetry was installed in several places including Nether Stowey, Webbers Post and Dunster's Conygar Tower.  The codes were laser etched onto slate and installed mainly in larger tablet sized form, with the exception being Watery Lane which is at the foot of the Coleridge Way trail. Here he installed small badge sized tiles (pictured) and it was thought that works in 2014 should continue in this style as far along the trail as was feasible.

QR Code poem nestling on a finger post, scan if you want to read!

Last year's poetry connected with three local schools with pupils aged between 7 and 11, and this year we have managed to up that to five schools, producing nearly 100 poems. This work (see other posts) was basically a response to the Somerset landscape, much of it along the Coleridge Way, answering the questions, what do you see, hear, feel, etc.

These poems were then whittled down to 80 or so and are at the etchers as I write, hopefully producing enough poetry tiles to cover a good section of the 36 miles of gates and sign posts from Nether Stowey to Porlock. Christopher say's 'I am really proud to be placing the words of the little authors back into the landscape which inspired them. The workshops with the schools are always full of surprises, one child wrote 'My hand is turning into a mermaids hand' magic,'

The canopy above the Cist at Dunster Woods near Roadwater
along the Coleridge Way trail.

So how do we read the poetry?

Very simply you'll need to install an app in your smart phone, but don't worry, as there are lots of free ones available.

QR Codes are often termed square bar codes, we have been familiar with regular strip shaped bar codes for over a generation now, these are the ones on the backs of books or packs of sausages. They are just strings of numbers which the scanner reads, but with a square QR code they can include letters, numbers and other characters too.

Today you'll see them everywhere, on the backs of vans, newspaper adds or promotional links. Most often these point to web sites which the scanner then feeds you conveniently through to. But that is a level of sophistication which we don't need here, out on the Moors there is little if any reception, so linking to a website would simply not work. But if we use QR codes in their simplest form, to reveal plain text, then we can encode short stanza's of poetry inside. Your smart phone decodes through its lens and you can read the hidden words without internet reception, it's all done in the handset.

The Cist clearing at Dunster Woods near Roadwater
along the Coleridge Way trail.

So before you embark (and leave wifi and data zones behind) install a scanning app in your smart phone, there are lots to choose from as QR codes have been around for about 20 years. Choose a free one which will do everything you will need and possibly a lot more. Install it and give it a go scanning anything that you see, my photograph of the finger post above works, and newspapers are often full of them.

So here are two examples of the pupils poetry, both were written by Stogursey Primary school children, they are inspired by their walk at Hodders Combe which was a favourite haunt of Coleridge and the Wordsworths.


as I walked through the lush green Hodders Combe
I heard the birds tweeting
morning greetings

as I wondered through the sunny Hodders Combe
I saw a fence protecting people from fallen trees
in the morning breeze

the beautiful sun was beaming like a star

as I walked through the calm Hodders Combe
I got to the enchanted river
I saw the freezing cold water fighting it's way

over the gleaming fallen tree log


it was a lovely summers day
birds were singing happily
a chainsaw was stretching like an animal
birds were whisking
I saw an extremely fluffy sheep
and webs that looked like stars
I smelt the minty moss
and elf ears in the trees
there were pretty leaves everywhere
then I got pricked