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The Poetry Project: Empowering Poetry for WA Shoppers

The Poetry Project, a UK initiative which displays messages of empowerment and positivity on information boards in the London Underground, has landed in WA with a unique collaboration between UK poet, author and project creator James McInerney, and a group of WA shopping centres including Currambine Central, Warnbro Centre, Kalamunda Central and Stirlings Central Geraldton.

A coup for WA, it is the Project’s debut in Australia with poetry to appear in poster stands in prominent positions in shopping malls across the four centres from July 22.

Mr McInerney said the Project initially ran in multiple stations in the London Underground including London Bridge Station, Covent Garden and Leicester Square, to name a few.

“The aim of the project is to get poetry into places you wouldn't normally see it and open people`s eyes to the joy of poetry,” Mr McInerney said.

“All the messages are positive and empowering. They are designed to make the commuters/shoppers stop and think, and question their life.”

Mr McInerney said the project had gone viral with commuters embracing the messages.

“The shoppers/commuters have been amazing! They have been taking selfies with the quotes and sharing the project on Twitter and Instagram, giving it a life online too,” he said.

“When you read something that you connect to, it means you are not alone in regards to the way that you feel and if you are not alone, life is more manageable on a daily basis.”

Due to its success, the project has grown and will appear in UK shopping centres, public parks and schools, with more places being added on a weekly basis, including a push further afield overseas, to countries including Australia and America.

Mr McInerney said the project aimed to use poetry to raise awareness of subjects like depression and mental health by helping those suffering.

“When I see people posting pictures on social media saying that the quotes made their day, it really makes the whole project worthwhile,” he said.

“Words can be powerful when used in the right context, I think this project achieves all the things it sets out to do on so many different levels and it is continually growing and changing to suit every single environment it is in.”

Knight Frank senior marketing manager Eryn Leonard said she jumped at the idea when Mr McInerney made contact.

“The core value of this project really resonated with me as it has the potential to bring powerful messages to people going about their everyday lives,” Mrs Leonard said.

“Shopping Centres are community central hotspots where you have a huge cross section of different people going about their daily business, whether it’s shopping their essentials, meeting friends for coffee or grabbing a bite to eat.

“We think this project has a lovely sentiment and by inserting positive messages into people’s daily lives in a subtle way, we feel as though it is a real value add for our shoppers.”

Mr McInerney is a Northampton Poet based in the UK and Author of five books. He is currently working with well-known actors from popular films and TV shows who are voicing his poetry and helping to highlight issues such as mental health and importantly, making them less taboo.

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