One & Other, Karen Head and The Fourth Plinth Project

Poet and writer Karen Head, known as poetphd on twitter, will make history today as she engages in a poetry project on top of The Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square at 5:00 pm London time. She will be writing lines of poetry into twitter, which will be continued by various twitter poets who signed up for the event. She sent a message on facebook to invite poets to join her, and then she coordinated the rest of the details via email. Time Magazine will be covering the event. Check out the live web cam to watch Karen Head make poetry history.


Collin Kelley has some great still shots  of Karen Head reading from The Fourth Plinth. He also has a list of the poets whose work Karen read aloud at 5:00 in the afternoon in London. I missed a few minutes of the whole whirlwind because fellow poet and blogger, Rethabile Masilo, called me from Boston to say he would be coming down South in a few days. At first, when he said ‘this is Rethabile from Paris,’ I thought it was someone connected to Karen’s project, and I was totally befuddled (which happens to me quite frequently).

I had three windows open on my laptop, plus I had my phone ready. It was a frenzy of going back and forth from my twitter page to Karen’s, to the web cam that showed Karen up on The Fourth Plinth. There was a net to catch the performers, and it was high enough that they were lifted  atop by a sort of electric fork lift. The day was bright and breezy, and it looked kind of chilly by the way everyone had on scarves and sweaters. Karen seemed to be squinting, and she later twittered us to say she couldn’t see her laptop screen very well.

But she had a smile on her face the whole time, and interacted with grace and happiness with the crowd. Using the Exquisite Corpse method, we all wrote a poem together under Karen’s direction, and she included lines from people in the crowd.  The lag time on Twitter made it a little tense, but Karen accomplished her mission in the end: she read one of her own poems, poems from several participants (including one of mine!), and also read our completed poem, titled ‘Monumental,” with an epigram by Walt Whitman, ‘I contain multitudes.’ Very fitting, don’t you think?

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