Cuckoo (Has it flown away) by Fujiwara no Toshinari – copyright Transport for London
A new set of poems will appear on London Underground from today (12 February 2018), celebrating strong links between past and present, love, longing and the rich experiences of daily life.
The collection includes work by two past winners of The Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards, now celebrating 20 years of support for poets aged 11-17, and includes poets from a wide range of countries and cultural backgrounds.
‘Grasmere Journal, 1801’ by Sinéad Morrissey is a poem of simple lines about daily life. It is taken from Dorothy Wordsworth’s 1801 journal which was transformed into poems by her brother William Wordsworth and their friend Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and then adapted for the 21st century by the leading Northern Ireland poet.
‘Love’ by Hannah Lowe, is a love poem evoking ordinary life in London’s multi-cultural East End, by the new Poet-in-Residence at Keats House, where the famous poet lived from 1818 to 1820
Award-winning London poet Daljit Nagra, who was Radio 4’s first Poet in Residence, contributes ‘Look there he goes even now, my father’, a love poem to his Sikh Punjabi father.
There is a love poem of a different kind, by prominent Lithuanian poet Antanas Šimkus, marking the Centenary of Restoration of the State of Lithuania, following the Armistice of 1918.
And ‘Cuckoo (‘Has it flown away’)’, by traditional Japanese poet Fujiwara no Toshinari, remains as meaningful now to Tube-riding Londoners, as it was to Japanese readers a thousand years ago, when it was first composed.
Poems on the Underground, founded in 1986, aims to bring poetry to a mass audience. It helps to make journeys more stimulating by showcasing a diverse range of poetry, including classical, contemporary and international poets in Tube train carriages across London. The poems are selected by writer Judith Chernaik and poets Imtiaz Dharker and George Szirtes.
The programme has inspired similar displays on public transport in cities worldwide, from New York and Paris to Moscow and Shanghai. Poems on the Underground is supported by Transport for London, Arts Council England and the British Council.
Eleanor Pinfield, Head of Art on the Underground, said:
“Poems on the Underground is loved by millions who enjoy being challenged, surprised and encouraged to contemplate by coming across a poem on their journey. This selection resonates with London as an international city, with voices from around the world coming together to explore the human experience.”
Judith Chernaik, writer, editor and founder of Poems on the Underground, said:
“We are delighted to be offering these poems of life and love to London’s Tube travellers, as the dark days of February yield to the first signs of spring.”
The poems featured are:
Two poems by past winners of The Poetry Society’s Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards, now celebrating 20 years of support for poets aged 11-17:
- Layers of Kant reveal: by Safrina Ahmed, winner in 2011
- Astral Enlightenment by Kyle Spencer, commended in 2017
- Grasmere Journal, 1801 by Sinéad Morrissey
- Love by Hannah Lowe
- Look there he goes even now, my father by Daljit Nagra
- A Date on Sunday by Antanas Šimkus
- Cuckoo (Has it flown away) by Fujiwara no Toshinari