STU duo takes poetry to the streets with new app

A duo from the St. Thomas University community came together this summer to take poetry out of the books and onto the streets of Fredericton.

Inspired by the Poetic Places app based in London, STU creative writing professor Kathy Mac hired recent graduate Katlin Copeland to launch Fredericton’s own rendition.

Mac also reached out to Sarah Cole, creator of the original app, and was pleased to learn part of Cole’s project was to expand Poetic Places to other parts of the world.

“She wanted to have other people create their own Poetic Places app so that more people could become conscious of the poetic and literary communities in their area,” said Copeland.

“It’s nice to be the first app of it’s kind in North America, and Fredericton in particular is very notable for its poetry.”

The app launched on Aug. 24. It’s an interactive experience which allows users to explore the city while engaging in local poetry and architecture.

Poems include “Remember the Day The Gleaner Missed?” by M. Travis Lane, located at the fountain in front of City Hall, “Fourteen Reasons Not to Eat Potato Chips on Church Street” by R.M. Vaughan, appropriately located on Church Street, and “Lighthouse on the Green” by Stewart Donovan, placed exactly where you’d expect: by the lighthouse downtown.

Copeland said having a Poetic Places app in Fredericton is a part of the globalization effort Cole intiated.

“Fredericton is known as Poets Corner, so it seemed like the ideal place to start an app like this,” Copeland said.

“The app is meant to engage users in a different way that doesn’t require them to find a copy of the book or by studying it in the classroom. It’s just out there so that you can interact with it.”

Copeland was hired by Mac in late May to collect local poetry, contact poets for permission to use their work, scope out locations, build the app from scratch, take pictures and write biographies.

“I really like poetry, but I had very little information about local poets, so I thought it was a very interesting opportunity to learn,” she said.

So far, 18 poems are listed on the app, but Copeland said there are more in the works and some may be headed for the university.

“We had a few ideas for poems to be placed at STU, so eventually one will get placed on campus. It’s just a matter of time and getting permission from the poets.”

Copeland returned to STU this fall to pursue her education degree, but Mac remains dedicated to adding more poems and keeping followers updated via a blog.

“Poetry is a major part of storytelling and New Brunswick is infamous for its storytellers,” she said.

“Having poetry that was made here by people who are from here accessible is very important.”

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