Spatial Poetry (beta)
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Spatial Poetry (beta)

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This activity writeup is in beta form. We always welcome your feedback, but especially right now before we officially launch this activity! Please share your comments and suggestions for improvements on the PLIX Forum!

Overview

Welcome to PLIX Spatial Poetry! This activity combines the expressive flexibility of poetic language and technical skills behind local data research to encourage a reimagination of maps and renewed understanding of place. Poems have historically influenced many of the place names we know today. Contemporary poets rethink the ties between language, place and belonging. Similarly, participants will become aware issues of place-naming in America, particularly its historical ties to colonization, and possibly connect with local renaming campaigns or future naming initiatives where they live. It draws on current topics in geography, poetry, and journalism.

Spatial Poetry at a Glance

This activity can operate as either a structured workshop or a drop-in activity.

  • Age Range: Ages 5 & up (able to read and write)
  • Group Size: 10 - 15 participants
  • Number of Facilitators: 1 - 2
  • Activity Length: 30 to 60 minutes
  • Cost: a few cents for photocopies, printing, or paper and art supplies

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PLIX Tip: Remember, like all PLIX activities, we encourage you to use this guide as a jumping off point โ€” feel free to remix and create new design prompts to suit your local community! And if you try something new, we'd love to hear about it on the PLIX Discussion Forum.

Supply Kit

Below you'll find some materials that we've found work well for this activity, but it's not necessary to have them all! The prompt you'll explore determines what materials you'll want to have on hand.

Printed, cut, and folded Spatial Poetry zines (one per participant)
PLIX zines: folded & cut Spatial Poetry printouts (one sheet per participant)
paper (with or without grids; generate a wide variety of styles at Griddzly)
markers, colored pencils, or crayons, especially black ones
scissors
large sheets / rolls of butcher paper (for large mapmaking)
laptops / computer access for research

Spatial Poetry Zine

Remixable / editable version here โ†’ NEW! Google Docs zine format

One-page PDF to print here โ†’

PLIXSpatialPoetryZine0.1.pdf8654.7KB

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A note about zines: Our PLIX zines are designed to be supplementary resources for patrons and librarians to refer to during workshops. They're a quick and easy way for people to learn some fundamentals. You can print them on 8.5x11" paper, and they're easy to assemble. Hereโ€™s a resource that shows you step-by-step how to cut and fold them after printing!

Facilitation

Workshop Prompts

The Spatial Poetry activity supplies can be used with a wide variety of workshop prompts. Below you'll find a few that we love ๐Ÿ’•โ€” and we encourage you to come up with your own!

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Street Shape Poem โ€” Trace the shape of a particular street and use that street and its intersections to write a poem.

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Found Map Poem - Derive a poem from a map by performing "erasure" or "collage" on the language of a map.

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Renaming Poem โ€” Write a poem where each line is a different renaming for a particular street or place. The new names can be words or phrases or even sentences.

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Publish / Perform / Place โ€” Choose a location for a site-specific reading series and/or a publication of poems created by the participants. Put together a one-time book or zine of the participants' works.

Street shape poem based on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, CA.
Street shape poem based on San Pablo Avenue in Oakland, CA.
A poem investigating investigating urban flooding by the Mystic River in Somerville, MA.
A poem investigating investigating urban flooding by the Mystic River in Somerville, MA.
An erasure poems, where all the orange trees in Orange County (California) were removed.
An erasure poems, where all the orange trees in Orange County (California) were removed.

Making Example Projects

When preparing to facilitate a creative learning activity, we always recommend populating your space with diverse example projects. A good example project is thoughtfully designed to inspire your patrons, spark their curiosity, and be easy enough to understand to support them in getting started with the activity.

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Learn more about the art of the example in our PLIX Guide to Making Activity Examples.

Facilitation Tips

Since there are many ways to explore symmetry, patrons may need some guidance in how or where to get started. When facilitating this activity, we encourage you to support a tinkering mindset, and consider the following to culture a creative learning environment:

Facilitation Techniques to try with Spatial Poetryโ†’

โฎ๏ธ Know your history.

Consider having examples on-hand that reflect the history of the different populations who have inhabited your community. Tap into your libraries archives

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Be sure to also check out our PLIX Facilitation Techniques Guide for additional techniques from the PLIX team to help you cultivate your own creative learning facilitation practice.

About PLIX Spatial Poetry

This activity was developed as part of the PLIX Co-Design program, in which Media Lab researchers team up with public librarians to create new PLIX programming, in collaboration with poet and artist C.X. Hua with the Data Feminism Lab's Audit the Streets Project.

Other ways to engage with the PLIX Beautiful Symmetry activity:

  • Looking for some background music? Check out our PLIX Spatial Poetry Playlist ๐ŸŽถ
  • Questions? Ask them on the PLIX Discussion Forum ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ
  • Share your experience running this workshop on social media using #PLIXSpatialPoetry ๐Ÿ˜Ž

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Want to learn more about PLIX? Visit our homepage at plix.media.mit.edu.

Except where otherwise noted, all materials on this site are licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.

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The Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) is a project of the MIT Media Lab Digital Learning & Collaboration Studio. Except where otherwise noted, all materials on this site are licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Accessibility.