Poetic Places

We’ve been so quiet that you may have been wondering what we were up to. Well, Poetic Places is the answer.

Poetic Places brings poetic depictions of places into the everyday world, helping you to encounter poems and literature in the locations described, accompanied by audiovisual materials drawn from archive collections.

Utilising geolocation services and push notifications, Poetic Places can let you know when you stumble across a place depicted in verse. Alternatively, you can browse the poems and places as a source of inspiration without travelling.

Poetic Places aspires to give a renewed sense of place, to bring together writings and paintings and sounds to mean more than they do alone, and to bring literature into your everyday life in unexpected moments.

Back in August last year I was fortunate enough to secure some funding from CreativeWorks London to become Creative Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the British Library. Since then, I’ve been occupying space in the Library’s excellent Digital Scholarship department and working on a project called Poetic Places.

The project grew out of my musing about fictions of places and how one might enable access to such fictions whilst in situ. A mobile solution seemed like a good idea, and so we decided to develop Poetic Places as an app.

Easier said than done, of course, but I opted to try and create the app in a way that could be replicated by smaller cultural heritage projects. To this end I have created in the app through an online platform that’s fairly inexpensive and requires minimal technical knowledge; this allowed me to make a native app in under six months with a total budget of £5k.

I’ve also used Poetic Places as an opportunity to explore and highlight digitised cultural heritage collections, especially those that are open and available under Creative Commons licenses.

I’m pleased to say that the app launched a couple of weeks ago and is now available for free on both iOS and Android

Poetic Places is, at the time of writing, best described as a pilot project; it contains ~25 ‘entries’, is restricted to locations in London, and uses only text and images. However, we have exciting plans to extend the app which you can find, along with the development blog and other resources, on the Poetic Places website.

In the interests of demystifying apps and getting similar projects off the ground, I’m very happy to talk candidly about the development of Poetic Places. Please do get in touch if you’d like to learn more about it or are thinking of embarking on a similar project of your own.

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