This document describes the purpose, guiding principles, and overall vision for Transatlantic Poetry on Air to continue to bring poetry to new audiences through the use of cutting-edge technology.

Purpose

The purpose of the reading series is as follows: 

  • To connect poets from both sides of the Atlantic, fostering cross-pollination of aesthetics and ideas
  • To expose audiences on one side of the Atlantic to poets from the other side, whom they might not be able to experience otherwise, to see and hear them read and interact with them by asking questions
  • To bring new audiences to poetry, using this highly accessible format
  • To lower the barrier to international exposure for participating poets, requiring only a broadband connection, a computer with webcam, and the time for them to participate
  • To explore the appropriate use of new technology to foster a greater appreciation of poetry globally
  • To provide an easy-to-use online platform for groups and organisations that champion poetry internationally to support, host, and participate in readings 

Guiding Principles

Transatlantic Poetry on Air is:

  •  A labour of love
  • A platform that openly encourages participation from individuals and organisations with a strong commitment to the support of poetry globally
  • An experiment

Transatlantic Poetry on Air is not:

  • Just about poets reading to webcams, but represents both a specific community and a growing overall movement for poets to connect, irrespective of geography
  • The exclusive domain of its founders, but seeks to expand and reach new audiences by asking for help and relying on the support of the larger community
  • Focused on any one aesthetic or school within poetry, but aims to represent a wide range of styles and approaches

The Platform

At the heart of Transatlantic Poetry on Air is the Google+ Hangouts on Air technology. This enables poets and their host to connect from different geographic locations in live multi-video readings and conversations, which are subsequently streamed live via YouTube. A mechanism for those tuning in to ask questions also allows the poets and the host to interact with the audience in live Q&A. These readings are archived on YouTube indefinitely for subsequent replay.

Transatlantic Poetry on Air is also a platform comprised of the many different parts that make these events successful. This includes support for training new hosts in best practices, support and technical help for the poets, and well-documented tips, standards, and best practices, developed iteratively through practical experience, to make the readings successful.

The platform also includes a growing Google+ community of people interested in attending the readings, as well as a Facebook page and a web site. The hashtag #tapoetry is in use on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to identify conversations about the Transatlantic Poetry readings.

Participation from Partners

In service to its aim to support poetry, Transatlantic Poetry on Air partners with select organisations that have a strong commitment to the same goals and a proven track record of making a positive difference. This includes poetry societies and groups, as well as literary journals. Such an organization should also have a strong connection to a network of poets on both sides of the Atlantic, and a commitment to produce high-quality online readings and events.

Transatlantic Poetry on Air’s open aim with partners is to “be the flower” pollinated by many sources. For example, Partner A might host an event one month, advertise the event to its base, and bring X new members to the community. Then Partner B hosting an event the next month gains the benefit of exposure to X new poetry-lovers that they might not have otherwise reached.

By providing an open platform for many groups to participate in partnership, everyone benefits—partners gain access to new audiences, poets gain exposure in ways that might not have otherwise been possible through traditional readings, and the Transatlantic Poetry community grows strong through multiple influences.

The Movement

What Transatlantic Poetry on Air ultimately represents is something greater than the sum of its parts. It is a manifestation of the growing trend of communication technology breaking down geographic barriers for poets and poetry-lovers to connect. Furthermore, the approach is economical, environmentally friendly, and accessible for those with restricted mobility.

In addition to the technological paradigm shift, enabling us to engage poets and their audiences in new ways, there is great interest overall for poets and poetry-lovers to connect globally. Poets on one side of the Atlantic recognise that they have much to gain from exposure to their counterparts across the sea. Transatlantic Poetry on Air therefore lies at the intersection between what poets and poetry-lovers increasingly want, and what is increasingly possible.

Transatlantic Poetry on Air aims to produce enjoyable, high-quality experiences throughout the lifecycle of each event for everyone involved. It aims also to be guided by its stated purpose and principles to evolve and expand over time, making it a fulcrum for the upliftment of global poetry in the twenty-first century.

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Robert Peake
London
September 11, 2013
First published on robertpeake.com