National Poetry Library - Instagram Poetry Exhibition

Southbank Centre, Fifth Floor (Blue Side). FREE.


The National Poetry Library is itself a little gem. On the fifth floor of the ever-buzzing Southbank Centre, it is the biggest dedicated collection of poetry in the UK. It's free to join, if you have ID and a recent bill to prove you are who you say you are. Suspicious people, poetry types...

The reason we were there was the current Instagram Poetry exhibition, proclaimed as the world's first on the rather low-key bit of paper that explains what's going on. Actually, the whole thing takes a moment to work out. There are three big posters up on the wall advertising the thing, but the thing itself is just a single TV in the corner attached to two sets of headphones, set up in front of a single stool. 

The TV runs 15 videos in a row, the best of over 1,000 submissions. It's a bit of a shame it's done in that way; a clear attempt to bring 21st century into some sort of spotlight using very 20th century technology. 'The whole new generation' that the advert tells you have taken to Instagram to create poetry probably don't use TVs any more....


But once settled on the stool with headphones on, it doesn't really matter. The variety and diversity is excellent, and some of the pieces are genuinely wonderful. We particularly liked 'Dice' by Annie Rockson (@gyallikeannie), 'En Silencio' by @colsenart, 'Public House' by @lauriebolger and 'Somewhere, Nowhere' by @filmmaker_markjrigby. Four completely different works, all of which, whether they spoke to us or not, changed our perception. Art doing what it's meant to do. 

That was just us, though. It felt like there was something for everyone, a lot packed into a short space of time. 

It really is all very low key, and if there's someone else there then you may have to wait for a while, but it's a really worthwhile project done well on a budget. 

A lovely little London adventure that, if you're lucky, might just leave you seeing things a bit differently.