Caedmon College Whitby lands £2,000 for poetry machines

Caedmon College students involved in the reading poetry project.
Caedmon College students involved in the reading poetry project.

The English Department and Creative Club at Caedmon College Whitby have secured £2,000 for a project that will see Poetry Machines planted at scenic spots in Whitby.

The funding, from the Ernest Cook Trust – one of the UK’s leading outdoor learning charities – will enable the creation of a series of interactive wood-block sculptures which will generate poetry that blends into the landscape and environment within their scenic locations.

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College students and staff will source wood, materials and create poetry that will be used in the creation of the ‘machines’. Students will also have to study the local environment and scenery to decide on the best locations of the sculptures, and to assess their impact on the environment and the landscape within which they are situated.

Mr Firth, College English teacher and designer of the machines concept, said: “The works will all be created from locally sourced wood and materials that will blend into the local landscape and will eventually decay naturally back into the environment.

“The 5ft high sculptures are essentially stacked, wooden blocks which will be engraved with short verses of original poetry.

“The blocks will rotate to generate new poems each time one of the blocks is turned.

“The concept is very simple although difficult to explain and visualise. The college’s technology department has produced a miniature model of one of the ‘machines’ which proved invaluable to use it to secure the funding for the project.

“The machines are similar to a simplified Rubik’s cube on a pole, which twists and turns to generate poetry.”

A spin-off from the funding will include workshops for college students led by professional poets and a wood sculptor, as well as visits for students to the saw-mill and wood workshops at Botton.

The college has worked The Mulgrave Estate and the Marquis of Normanby, who was so impressed with the plans that he gave permission for some of the works to be placed on some public access areas of the estate.

Anyone interested in finding out more about this project or contributing materials can contact Chris Firth or Melissa Cooke in the College’s English department. It is hoped that the first of the machines will have been created, constructed and put in place by next April.