Artwork for Poetry Costs/University Poetry Mural Furore – Poetry News Roundup January 26th

In our final poetry news roundup of the week we take a look at the artist who is working out the costs of the work of famous poets and then creating artwork from the costs. We also have an article about the University in Berlin that is painting over a poetry mural on its walls that students have complained is sexist.

Just How Much Are Poems Actually Worth?

Artist Pip Thornton thinks she might have found the answer to this question. Thornton is a PhD candidate at Royal Holloway University of London, studying geopolitics and cybersecurity and she has been using a Google AdWords keyword planner to reduce works by some of the big names in the poetry world to simple monetary values.

The result of this rather interesting project has been names {Poem}.py, and is part of the L.M.A.O. Exhibition at the Open Data Institute of London; the exhibition takes a look at the humour of data.

Poets who have been subjected to the Google AdWords treatment include George Orwell, William Wordsworth, William Carlos Williams, Sylvia Plath and Wilfred Owen.

Take for example Wordsworth’s immortal line “I wandered lonely as a cloud”, wandered is worth absolutely nothing whilst lonely is worth 92p and cloud is worth £2.14, the high price attributed to cloud has nothing to do with poetic imagery but rather is rather as a reference to cloud hosting. For the same reason both crowd and host, also in the same poem have good prices £2.02 and £3.14 due to crowdfunding and web hosting. Once each poem has been calculated Thornton produces a receipt for it, rather like a till receipt.

“Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen, also scored well overall, thanks to words like guttering, which was used by the poet to create an image of a soldier choking during a gas attack, of course what Google AdWords picked up on was plastic guttering, which is searched for frequently at this time of year.

One interesting thing that Thornton did discover is that the value of a word can vary from region to region. During a visit to Galway, Thornton was asked to create a receipt for “Arrival of the Bee Box” by Sylvia Plath she found that if she altered her region to Galway, God was worth around three times as much as it would have been in England however as a whole the poem was still much cheaper.

And if you were wondering what the cost of a novel is, 1984 by George Orwell produced a receipt for £58,318.14.

Students Complain Over Poetry Mural

Students at a University in Berlin have complained that a mural that had been inscribed on the University façade is sexist.

The poem in question is “Avenidas” a Spanish language poem by Eugen Gomringer. The University has agreed to paint over the poem with a selection that will be made from a new poetry prize winner every year. It plans to paint over the mural in the autumn with a poem by Barbara Köhler, last year’s winner of the poetry prize.

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