Nature poems hanging on The Wall of Miracles

Luggage tag poetry wall

A unique collection of original nature poetry printed onto handmade cards the size of luggage tags from writers around the world will be exhibited on a wall outside Reed Hall on the University of Exeter’s Streatham Campus. The Wall of Miracles poetry installation makes use of a particularly beautiful section of masonry near Reed Hall, hanging poem cards about animals and nature by string to the wall. 


Humanities Doctoral students Jaime Robles, Mike Rose-Steel, and Suzanne Steele, under the collective title of exEgesis arranged the exhibition to garner an enthusiastic response from writers. They decided that by limiting the poem to no longer than 16 lines long and 45 characters per line wide, the luggage tag-sized poetry could offer a productive constraint for writers.

Almost 150 poems from students to internationally published poets such as Laura Mullen, Susanne Dyckman and Exeter’s Andy Brown have contributed to the project. Around 80 different animals and plants have been represented in their selection, but the most popular animals were foxes, otters and herons. According to  Jaime Robles, the writers have been inspired by the variety, fragility and oddity of nature, manifest in beautiful landscapes, personal animal encounters or meditations on humanity’s relationship with the ‘wild world’.

Mike Rose-Steel, who also organised the post-graduate seminar that the installation is part of, said:”exEgesis. has created an intensely interactive installation as the poem tags twirling in the wind need to be grabbed before they can be read. The sight and feel of massed poems fluttering along the solid Victorian wall, like so many typeset butterflies, should be a delight. Many of the contributors are also students or local poets, putting their words smack-bang into the middle of their community. However, the installation is also designed to be corroded by the weather as the poems are written on biodegradable paper, and will eventually degrade when exposed to the elements. Part of the appeal of The Wall of Miracles installation will be to watch the effects of Nature on poems about Nature.”

An example of one of the poems is the Owl by Mike Rose-Steel.

What is the ‘what is’ of it all

in the marbled eye of an eagle-owl?

This eye, that turns a head that turns

a wing to catch a mouse, is

all vowel, a drawn-out empty fall

into the wind’s growl

and what it sees lags off what it learns

from the rustle in night-grass.

The installation has come from the students’ own impetus and handicraft, and the University has been supportive of the endeavour. The poetry installation is being displayed as part of the College of Humanities PGR student Conference on 30 April and 1 May and will be on display for four weeks thereafter.

Date: 30 April 2013

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