#AllezLiterature uses social media to celebrate World Poetry Day with poems from across Europe

Europeana kicks off the second phase of the #AllezLiterature campaign with a salute to World Poetry day. Starting today and conducted via social media over the coming month, this initiative works with libraries and archives across Europe to focus on the value of the written word in our cultural heritage.

Continued relevance of Poetry

World Poetry Day was initiated by UNESCO, in the belief that poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that people, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry Day is also meant to encourage a return to the oral tradition: poetry should no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity. Europeana is proud to support this message with content that promotes the richness and diversity of our shared European cultural heritage, and fosters our understanding of society.

Four Muses from BL Royal 6 E IX, f. 30 | Convenevole da Prato, The Public Library, public domain

A Pan-European collaboration

Over the coming weeks, we will be posting poems from across Europe and inviting people to discover and share them on social media. To make that happen, we asked libraries across Europe to nominate poems they already had in Europeana, or to provide new material. Institutions involved contributed records from the Romantics to Constructivism and from Burns to World War I poetry, with more to come over throughout the month.

Liaising with the various institutions has highlighted some challenges surrounding textual content in Europeana, for instance licensing of material, discoverability of collections, and gaps in available content. Much of the material submitted does not have a direct link, which makes the item more difficult to use in a social media campaign requiring the instant gratification of something visual and one click away. Equally for the material to be usable on social media platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook, all commercial entities, the license needs to be open, this has led to us having to turn down non-commercially labeled material. In some instances, the library was able to open up the license but in others not, due to contractual restrictions. It means that we were not able to share the range of content we were aiming for, though it provides us with a direction for improvement regarding textual material in Europeana.

Fleurs de tranchée, Europeana 1914-1918

Encouraging participation

Building on the work done for the Europeana 1914-18 Transcribathon, and following the Love Transcribathon launched on Valentine’s Day a #WW1 Poetry Run has also been developed for #AllezLiterature. Users are invited to transcribe handwritten poems by combattants, but also by civilians, that established War Poetry as a literary genre.

And the campaign also encourages interaction between institutions and users to experience poems in new ways. To this end people are invited to listen to and share poetry ‘playlists’ with recordings found on Europeana SoundCloud, find and share translations, and post their favourite quotes from poems with the hashtags #AllezLiterature and #WorldPoetryDay. Libraries and other institutions are asked to proactively support the campaign by promoting the activities through their own channels. The Members Council AllezCulture working group will be supporting these initiatives on their own Twitter channels, and everyone is invited to join and spread the word.

Celebrating the written word

This celebration of poetry marks the second phase of Europeana’s #AllezLiterature campaign, exploring our shared human experience in 2017 through words and texts in all their forms and languages. Working with libraries, archives and the public across Europe, it underlines that Europeana’s content is broader than images. #AllezLiterature will continue into the summer with two more phases dedicated to our textual past.