On 1 March, the 6th edition of „Wiersze w metrze“ is taking off. For one month our daily underground commute will offer a unique poetic perspective. The people of Warsaw will have a chance to slow down and ponder on the nature of poetry, humanity and the world around us. The event is being organised by the European Union National Institutes of Culture (EUNIC). It has been funded by the City of Warsaw.
This year’s campaign features poetry from twenty European countries: from Spain and Cyprus to Sweden and Norway. Of course, it will also include poems from Poland. The poets and the poems were chosen by the cultural institutions associated in EUNIC Warsaw. Other participating institutions were the Wisława Szymborska Foundation, the jury of the European Poet of Freedom Award, and the Polish Literary Translators Association.
This year, the main theme is nature – understood not only as the world around us, but also in a more philosophical way. The nature of things, the nature of the city and its particular rhythm, different in every metropolis, that can also be found in poetry; the nature of human relationships and the nature of every human being as an individual entity.
The poems will be displayed throughout the month of March in metro carriages on special stickers and on City Info TV screens. They will also appear on the billboards and citylights at underground stations. On the 21st of March, the poetry will be also read on the radio to celebrate the World Poetry Day. The event will be supported by the Polish Radio 3, which will give rein to poetry every hour just after the news blocks. What is more, the project is being supported by several Warsaw cafes: on 21st of March the coffee will be served with some poetry on the side.
The activities planned for 21 March – the World Poetry Day – will include poetry reading and speed dating with poets from 10 participating countries (more information soon).
All the poems chosen for this year’s edition are available online at www.wierszewmetrze.eu. The website also introduces the poets and their translators. Here we will find any poems that caught our attention during our daily commute. The website will also host the annual haiku contest, “Haiku for Warsaw” – its previous editions have always garnered a lot of interest. When the campaign ends, collected poems will be available for download from the website.
During previous editions, the project has reached over one million underground commuters, Internet users, and the participants of various events surrounding the main project. The main goal of the initiative is to promote the works of European poets and to enable encounters with poetry in unexpected places.
Every city is a dynamic space where people change places from one spot to another, all day long. In large metropolies, underground is the most convenient way to travel. However, there’s no interesting views to catch our eye behind the metro windows. This space forces the commuters to occupy themselves looking at posters and ads that cover the walls. During the „Wiersze w metrze“ month, literature takes over the space normally dedicated to advertising – it helps to shake off the daily routine and allows a moment of independent, non-commercial reflection. It takes us on a different kind of travel: a lyrical trip to the world of contemporary poetry and deep inside our own imagination and sensitivity.
European cultural institutes and culture departments of embassies, associated in EUNIC Warsaw: Austrian Cultural Forum, Czech Republic Centre, the Embassy of Cyprus, Danish Cultural Institute, the Embassy of Finland, the Genreal Representation of the Flemish Government, Instituto Cervantes, The Royal Netherlands Embassy, the Embassy of Ireland, the Embassy of Lithuania, the Embassy of Malta, Goethe-Institut, Camões I.P., the Romanian Cultural Institute, British Council
as well as:
Turkish Cultural Centre – Yunus Emre Institute, European Poet of Freedom, Wisława Szymborska Foundation, the Polish Literary Translators Association.
AMS, Polish Radio 3
Project funded by: THE CITY OF WARSAW
On Wiersze w metrze
In 2008, the Book Institute and the British Council in Warsaw conceived the unique cultural idea set within urban space. The purpose of this project was to promote contemporary European poetry – it was called „Wiersze w metrze“.
The idea of placing poetry on the underground was inspired by the regular project called „Poems on the Underground“ that has been taking place in London since 1986. Similar campaigns are carried out in many other cities, such as Dublin, Paris, New York, Barcelona, Stockholm, Brussels, Stuttgart and Moscow.
European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) is an association of national institutes for culture from the EU countries. It is based on collaborative work of cultural institutions, but also on exchange of experiences and skills and working with local partners (including non-profit and cultural organisations), and with the European Commission.
The EUNIC’s mission is to promote European values, support cultural diversity, both within and outside the EU. The association actively works in various sectors, such as art, education, multilingualism, and intercultural dialogue.
In Poland, the local EUNIC offices are EUNIC Warsaw and EUNIC Cracow, which faciliate the collaboration of the local cultural institutions and Polish partners.
Eunic Warsaw gathers 16 members, 8 associated members and 15 collaborating institutions (such as cultural institutes – both local and embassies – and Polish cultural institutions). EUNIC Warsaw carries out a number of cultural projects every year – many of them have become a permanent element of the city’s landscape. Some of the most notable projects include: the European Langage Day, International Translation Day, or Spoke’N’Word Festival. Moreover, EUNIC is responsible for organising such events as international conferences: “Think (in) Visual Communication” (2014), or “European Discussions. Jews and Holocaust in European Public Discourse” (2015).