Quotidian – Word on the Street

There is no better person to explain what Poetry Jukebox is, than the amazing lady who brought it to Ireland first. Below is just a little piece about the poetry pioneer herself and this ground-breaking concept from the Czech Republic. This is just a little extract from the website, https://quotidian.ie/projects/poetry-jukebox/ so please visit there to read more. We find Maria & Co to be inspirational can-do poetry people, they have given us an example of what can be achieved in Cobh.

Belfast-based poet Maria Mc Manus has a passion for bringing literature into the cityscape, so that we can encounter the beauty and imagery of words (sometimes unexpectedly) as we go about our everyday lives; in her own words, ‘putting literature where it belongs, everywhere, for everybody.’ She set up Quotidian – Word on the Street with poet Deirdre Cartmill in 2017 as a vehicle to breathe life into that ambition. The Poetry Jukebox is an international project founded by Ondřej Kobza, a Prague-based cultural activist and entrepreneur focused on the animation of public space and ways of making cities more liveable for the people that live in them: he created a steel structure, deliberately styled to bring to mind a gramophone or speaking trumpet, with a button to press for anyone to hear a poet read their own poem, anytime, free gratis and for nothing.

Find out more about Ondrej’s amazing projects here


Quotidian launched the first Poetry Jukebox in Ireland at the Belfast International Festival in 2017. ‘In truth, it’s miraculous that we were able to make it happen’, says Maria. ‘But as is the case with these things, it took persistence, support and generosity to bring it into being. Without the impetus of artist’s residencies for myself and Deirdre Cartmill from the Belfast International Festival, a Lottery Fund small grant via the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and, crucially, the support of the general public through crowdfunding, it just wouldn’t have been possible.’ The debut curation of poems included leading lights of literature as Eavan Boland , Padraic Fiacc , Paula Meehan, Katie Donovan, Michael Longley and Joan Newmann, in addition to important newer voices such as Mark Granier, Aifric McGlinchey Olive Broderick, Matthew Rice and Seanín Hughes. The Jukebox holds twenty audio files, and a new curations are installed regularly.

Since then, the Jukebox family has grown. Quotidian has a further two ‘touring’ jukeboxes, which can be installed in venues, streetscapes, hospitals, schools and museums. In 2020, Maria worked in partnership with  Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, so now there is a permanent installation of a Poetry Jukebox in the courtyard of CCI too.  Quotidian and Centre Culturel Irlandais plan to collaborate on an ongoing basis to tour curations of Irish poetry to Paris. The Paris jukebox, a first for all of France, is also the first in the world to be developed on a crank-handle mechanism, making it a ‘greener’ innovation.

In 2019 the Poetry Jukebox Czech partner, Ondřej Kobza , worked with Maria McManus as Quotidian’s artistic director to innovate and integrate features which makes it more accessible for disabled people. As a former occupational therapist, Maria could clearly see that small changes to Ondřej’s original design would make an impact and improve disabled accessibility. ‘These are small but repeatable innovations which can be replicated elsewhere,’ explains Maria. ‘With the support of Belfast City Council and the Department for Communities, we now have the first Jukebox in the world which integrates features for enhanced disabled access.’

Follow @poetryjukebox on Twitter, and if you see one make sure to visit and support.

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