Poetry of Play

by Kira Birch

Kira's collection of projects explore the possibilities of a poetry of play or 'play poetry,' which is both active and participatory in its engagement with a readership or audience. Seeking to explore the imaginative, the adventurous and the experimental, the projects consist of photopoetic interactions with perspective; the possibilities of reader participation through embellishment and active defacement; and the narrative potentials invited through juxtaposition. 

In Kira's words: 

Amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19, the Writing Minds Project encourages us to safely engage with the world around us and focus on our mental well-being. Thus, my project sprung from the initial desire for my poetry to be interactive – a performative kind of poetry where readers could experiment and innovate through play. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, physical audience interaction was not a possibility. Yet, it is exactly at a time where social interaction is restricted that we need to find new ways of connecting with the physical world and each other as a form of grounding and self-care.

My project has three aspects: Hanging Toys, Scrapbook, and Lightbox, where the theme of childhood hoists up a kite and runs through these three pieces, linking them together through found objects. These found objects are imbued with childhood memories which readers can manipulate through interaction and play. Thus, my projects are intimately connected to an exploration of mental health, whereby through interaction a reader performs their own childhood and creates new perspectives that can potentially alter traumatic memories or experiences. Please feel free to interact and respond to my project. In this strange period, I hope you find time to play.

To engage further with Kira's project, why not follow the project's Instagram account at @poetryofplay where you can respond and submit your own images.

The Hanging Toys Project

The Hanging Toys project began with a small toy aeroplane that sits on my bedside. I was fascinated with the strong meanings we place upon such objects, and the memories and experiences we associate with them.

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Watch video here: 

Scrapbook

My second project took the form of a scrapbook, where I printed found childhood drawings onto acetate to create a layering effect which mirrors the transiency of memory. I wanted to encourage readers to interact with the scrapbook in any way that they wished, so I created a toolset of different materials: a scalpel, oil pastels, acrylic paint, and ink, which were chosen to show the range of possible interaction, from impermanent to permanent acts.

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Lightbox

My final project began with a set of film slides I had bought from a charity shop. When placed on a light source these film slides showed different, seemingly random images. I didn’t know who took these photographs or what they are of, and as such became interested in trying to work out their origins and connections. As a child you learn about the world through stories, oral storytelling, nursery rhymes, and childhood songs. By placing these slides next to each other you inevitably make connections between the images. I was interested in how we intuitively want to create a narrative from these images, with that desire perhaps reflecting how we might subconsciously plot our own childhood from our memories. I encouraged readers to interact with the slides by writing words that they associated next to the image, therefore creating image inspired poems.

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‘Concluded evenings, new mornings,

Church plans

Another elsewhere

Alone

Sleepless cold nights camping

People inside together.’

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‘Swim in the river

Copenhagen streets

Some sky somewhere

Not paying rent

Still alone?

Together

Crab for a hat,

Shark for a sofa.’

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Why not submit your own response to the above image from Kira's project on Instagram at @poetryofplay.