How to run an easy, effective poetry event: Landing Place at Turner Contemporary

Landing Place was an irregular event held at Turner Contemporary. Every couple of months, ten poets would perform for ten minutes each, united by a single theme connected to the gallery’s programme. That theme inspired many poets to make new work to the brief. I co-organised and co-hosted Landing Place with Tracey Thompson. At each event, we’d get 125-150 people watching poetry.

At the closing of Landing Place, a small publication brought together some of the poems written especially for Landing Place. 

Catalogue:

LP01: 29 October 2017 Migration (Supported by Paines Plough)

LP02: 13 January 2018 DADA! The Poetry of Hans Arp & Friends (Promenade performance)

LP03: 11 February 2018 Loss and Remembrance 

LP04: 11 March 2018 Power of Women

LP05: 8 April 2018 The Waste Land and Margate

LP06: 10 June 2018 Animals and Us

LP07: 12 August 2018 Pride

LP08: 10 March 2019 Power of Women

LP09: 26 May 2019 Beside The Sea

LP10: 14 July 2019 Landing Place

LP11: Landing Place Anthology – New Writing 2017-2019

“Without these platforms, and the generosity of people like Dan and Tracey who put them on and the poets who contribute for free, we would all be much poorer. We need the willingness of arts organisations to include such events in their programmes, places where anyone who wants to can try things out in a space near to where they live, in places who support not only rich-and-famous international artists but also the talent right on their doorsteps. Things begin in these places, beautiful and important things. Art and friendship and ideas and new beginnings. Communities are strengthened and people given hope and entertainment. “It’s important just to be together and have fun isn’t it?” said the nice stranger sitting next to me. “Yes,” I said “yes it is”.”

Bernadette Russell, writer, performer, and storyteller

“Dada events must have been wonderful to witness at the time, but in some ways to see this performance bursting through the cases and across time, creating joyous moments in 2018, was even more extraordinary.”

Kate Kneale, Creative Director of international design company HKD, on LP02

So here are the Rules of Landing Place. I reckon, they’re pretty good rules for setting up and running an easy but effective poetry event.

The Rules:

The audience is more important than the performers. It’s the audience’s room.

At every event, ten performers have ten minutes each. There’s a sand timer on stage to remind them. (Knowing they were timed, most poets were on stage around eight minutes).

There is a half hour for everyone to settle before the start, then two halves, with an interval.

The running order is on the wall and on the door, so the audience know what to expect.

The door is always open, and the Rule of Two Feet always applies. Stay for one poem, or one poet, or all afternoon.

But remember, if you don’t like this poet – it’s never more than ten minutes to the next one.

Poets are invited or ask politely. The line up is set in advance – no walk up performers.

If you performed at the last one, you don’t perform at this one, so the line up is always different.

If you just turn up, do your slot, and leave, you’re not coming back.

Each event has a theme: so as a performer, think about what you are performing or write new work. No greatest hits.

Because of the open door, and the Rule of Two Feet, it’s not a silent room. Unless the poet is captivating enough.

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