5 March – 25 June 2013: A Poetic A-Z of Reading: an exhibition at Reading University Library


This exhibition celebrates a variety of creative activity through the lens of Reading town as busy commuter hub. It brings together manuscripts, books, maps, pamphlets, artworks and a number of poetic alphabets from the University of Reading Special Collections and private collections. The exhibition is one of two organized to coincide with the first Reading Poetry Festival, 5-9 June 2013.

Poetry Publishing in Reading 1951-2013
Cabinet 1 illustrates the range of poetry publication taking place in Reading over the last 60 years. The Arts School, University of Reading, published handset volumes for over a decade during the 1950s. Whiteknights Press volumes were designed in Typography through the 1970s and 80s. Two Rivers Press, founded in the following decade, continues to publish poetry in collaboration with artists and typographers.

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The Case of Two Reading Poems

In Cabinet 2 Reading is the inspiration for two short poems written by Peter Robinson during 2007, the year of his settling in the town. The first, with its illustration by Sally Castle, was inspired by an electricity substation on Erleigh Road. The second, again illustrated by Castle, was in part prompted by an alphabet painted on the wall of St Peter’s School, Earley.

Poetic A-Zs: Road, River, Rail
Cabinet 3 offers a sequence of ‘guides’ to literary Reading. Here, local history, architecture and green spaces bear traces of different places, literatures, and sources. Poetic re-interpretations of Arthur Rimbaud and Eugene Montale draw lines between Glasgow, Paris, Milan and Reading. The printed page is juxtaposed with poems on walls and stones; sculpture with poetry and etching. Archival materials and letters move into surprising orientations as poetry takes shape as map, photograph, advertising, graffiti and visual art.

This exhibition is curated by Natalie Pollard and Peter Robinson, Department of English Language and Literature, University of Reading.