Poetic PLaces British Library literary london literary geography

Poetic Places, launched this week by the British Library and TIME/IMAGE, is a free app that explores the relationship between literature and place in London. The app alerts you when you’re wandering somewhere of literary significance, presenting you with poetry and prose about the very spot through which you’re striding.

The app doesn’t include any tours or suggested routes, it’s deliberately designed to be GPS-triggered so you stumble accross places of literary significance rather than being led around in a pre-ordained way. ‘We wanted to encouage serendipitous discovery,’ says Sarah Coles (creator of Poetic Places and entrepreneur-in-residence at the British Library).

Technology can so often limit interaction with our environment – smart phones monopolise our attention and deny us the pleasure of getting lost – but Poetic Places, utilises this technology to instead enrich our experience of the city.

As yet, Poetic Places isn’t as densely populated with literary reference points as you might like it to be, but this is an evolving project. A suggestions section on the app allows users to propose ideas of London writing they think should be included and Sarah Coles hopes people will also submit their own compositions. In this way, it has the scope to reflect contemporary responses to London, as well as creating portals into the past.

I might even try my hand at composing something myself. I’ll let you know when I finish Ridley Road Market Sunset. In the meantime, here’s one of my favourite pieces of London writing…

Poetic Places is available now for free download and you can follow @poetic_places on Twitter for more updates and developments.