May 25th, 2010
City Poems 2003
Andrew Wilson, and contributors from Leeds and Antwerp
Features: Open participation; works on any mobile phone
Production credits: Andrew Wilson, Kioty Ltd and C.H.I.P.S. vzw
Launch date: February 2003
City Poems was a text message biography of the city of Leeds, written by people living and working there and delivered direct to readers’ mobile phones from a network of Poem Points around the city, including bars, bus stops, schools, shops, call centres and community centres, all chosen as places which, taken together, told the story of a city. Poem Points were made using posters, beer mats and even balloons, and participants downloaded a poem to their mobile by texting a place-marker code from the Poem Point to a mobile number and in return were sent a poem about the place they were in, so for example poems in a bar were about being drunk, hoping to meet someone, hoping to avoid someone or regretting the night before, where-as in a hospital poems were about care, grief or love.
The first poems for the system written by creative writing groups run by Peter and Ann Sansom and after that anyone who wanted to add a poem of their own could send it as a text message.
In 2004 City Poems inspired the STADSchromosomen (“city chromosomes”) project in Antwerp as part of the city’s World Book Capital celebrations. To reflect the way that mobile phones allow users to be present in two places at once, City Poems and STADSchromosomen twinned similar locations in Leeds and Antwerp, for example the civic theatres in the two cities, and this allowed people in at the theatre in Leeds to read poems written about the theatre in Antwerp, and people in Antwerp to read about Leeds. City Poems closed in October 2005.