Poetic Map of Reading: Call for Submissions

article thumb - The Poetic Map of Reading

The Poetic Map of Reading


An open call for new poems from new and established writers celebrating the power and joy of reading.

Date & time

Date:3 March 2022 to 15 April 2022

Event Details

Address:Canada Water Library
21 Surrey Quays Road

Post code:SE16 7AR


“I could never have dreamt that there were such goings-on
in the world between the covers of books…”

- from ‘Notes on the Art of Poetry’ by Dylan Thomas

The Project

Poetic Map of Reading is an open call from Southwark Libraries for new poems celebrating the power and joy of reading. Reading can help us to feel safe or guided in a world that often seems overwhelming. The project will aim to reflect the need we all have to go inside of ourselves at times to find other worlds, other landscapes.

Wes White and library colleagues will lead the project, along with Jenny Mitchell, prize-winning author of Map of a Plantation and Her Lost Language (Indigo Dreams Publishing). As Artist in Association at Birkbeck, University of London, she will aim to promote selected poems from the project on the Birkbeck website, especially those that examine the need for healing and self-care.

This project will stand alongside the highly successful Poetic Map of Freedom, a Black History Month initiative run by the same team in 2021. The aim is to replicate this success by reaching out across the world to create writing that celebrates poetry, books and the joy of reading.

Creative Prompt from Jenny Mitchell:

Prompts words: Need / Guide / Teacher / Loss / Learning / Memory / Safety
What ideas do the above words spark for you in relation to reading as a child or as an adult?
How do we write with honesty, clarity and intensity about the pleasure and pain of reading, and what books mean to us?
Whom do we wish to address, and is there a need to widen the audience when it comes to discussions around the importance of reading for pleasure as well as instruction?
How can we read in a time of global panic and confusion? How can we not?


This is a time when more and more indigenous languages are under threat, when young people have faced increased obstacles to learning because of the Covid pandemic and growing poverty.

Can it be argued that our need to read creatively has never been more urgent? Does there have to be a collective will to maintain that practice and celebrate it for all of the resilience it offers us? Can our new poems and heartfelt narratives about the joy, need and challenges of reading work towards transforming the world for the individual and collective good?

What would a Poetic Map of Reading look like if we spoke from our hearts? Would it offer all of us a chance to slow down, pick up a book, take a breath and dive in?

To contribute to the Poetic Map of Reading, read Jenny Mitchell’s Creative Prompt above, and email between one and three poems in response to wes.white@southwark.gov.uk by midnight on 15 April 2022.

The call for new work is open to both new and established poets both locally to Southwark and all over the world, but work should not previously have been published or featured in a similar project.

Selected poems will be posted on the Southwark Libraries Twitter feed (http://www.twitter.com/southwarklibs) throughout June 2022, with a live celebratory event taking place during Southwark Libraries’ annual Festival of Words in that same month.

“Two girls discover / the secret of life /in a sudden line of / poetry.”

from ‘The Secret’ by Denise Leverton

For more about Jenny Mitchell’s poetry, see https://www.indigodreamspublishing.com/jenny-mitchell. Her Twitter handle is JennyMitchellGo


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