Poetopography is the study of poets and poetry in time/space, in psychohistory/psychogeography.

It is interested in things such as knowing that the only page handwritten by Shakespeare thought to be extant is the ‘Hand D’ page on display at the British Musuem. It is from the collaborative play called Sir Thomas More, and Shakespeare’s contribution was an impassioned speech by Sir Thomas on the theme of ‘pity the poor immigrant’.

File:Sir Thomas More Hand D.jpg

Poetotopgraphy is also interested in finding out about Shakespeare’s known lodging in the City at the beginning of the Jacobean era in 1603. It’s recorded that he lived in the now vanished Silver Street. An underground car-park is almost exactly where his house would have stood. It’s close to this section of London Wall.

The author Charles Nicholl is a brilliant researcher who has shed light on all this, an honorary poetopographer for sure.

For years I have been a psychogeographical poet and Londonist. It’s great stuff even if it leads some to snideness. As there have been schisms to mythogeography, deep topography, and even psychogeology, I’ve decided to name my own approach poetopography and work with that. I’d never been that interested in what every Tom, Dick and Harry was upto. Poetry and poets was the obsession.

The banner image is by the artist-anarchist Mike Lesser and features the ghostly heads of Shakespeare, Blake, Rimbaud, and Yeats.


About Niall McDevitt

Niall McDevitt > poet > author of b/w (Waterloo Press, 2010) and Porterloo (International Times, 2012) > urban explorer > radical pedestrian who leads Shakespeare/Blake/Rimbaud /Yeats walks, among others.
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4 Responses to Poetopography

  1. J says:

    This is really lovely.

  2. dianajhale says:

    Love it – fascinating topic for blog!

  3. olivia byard says:

    I checked in here to see if you’d got my message. However, Niall, this is a really fascinating literary site – I didn’t know about most of this detail at all. And with all the pics and examples of poetry, it makes for a great virtual tour for those of us who can’t access the real thing.

    I’m going to share it on Facebook so friends abroad can see it! And when term begins I’ll send the link to students. Very well researched with determination and passionate detail! I don’t agree with everything about Shakespeare – the sonnet sequence is complex and tudor sexuality was full of ambiguity and denial; identity was different and being gay was both a mortal sin (even for those not very religious) and a capital offence.

    But I’ve always loved ‘ My Mistress’s eyes….’I think it’s a poem written by a man who loved women. And anyone who created Rosalind or even Lady Macbeth had to like women. However, I think the young-man sonnets speak of real desire for a male youth. I suspect if Shakespeare had today’s sensibilities he would be called ‘bisexual’. However, there is also the general artistic of feeling intensely about people of either sex who interest you and feed work.

    Good luck with these walks and pilgrimages – they seem like an original and intriguing contribution to the literary life of both our country and London itself.

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