Live survey post 1

Live from the survey

What poem do you know?

'The Trees by Philip Larkin

Your thoughts and feelings?

This poem was 'given' to me by a friend as an alternative to a party bag at her birthday party.  I pinned the copy up by my desk, so would spend a lot of time looking at it when I was meant to be working … as I started to become familiar with it I would recall it when out and about – particularly in spring, as I really love this time of year when everything is vibrant and fresh.


An encouraging start

The Cambridge News gets the measure of it.

National Poetry Day may be over, but it’s still Poetry and Memory Month!

Our survey, which runs throughout October, has already got off to a great start. When we launched on Thursday, the project was featured on Radio 4’s Today programme, ITV Anglia News, and Radio Scotland’s Culture Studio. And our own Cambridge News rose to the occasion in poetic mode. (Click the image to view.)

That first day also brought – to our huge relief – a surge of survey responses.

We’ve also had lots of messages from people expressing interest in and support for the project, along with various questions. So here on our first ‘Live Survey Blog’, I thought I’d deal with a few FAQs. (All genuine questions and comments.)

I was born in the UK, but I don’t live there now. And I’d love to take part – why can’t I?
One of the aims of the survey is to try and build up a picture of poetry that people know today in the UK, so we didn’t want to complicate that particular issue by extending the survey beyond its borders. However, it has other aims that relate to our wider investigation. We’re also interested in what people who know a poem by heart have to say about that poem, how they feel about memorised poetry, and where and why the poems have been learned. So we’ve now set up a separate survey which is open to anyone from the UK but currently living abroad. You can do that survey here.

So, do you think our experience of a poem is really different when it’s in our memory, and what are the effects?
We don’t know yet. There’s virtually no research on this; that’s why we’re doing this. (We do have ideas, of course, but we don’t want to pre-empt the actual findings.)

This is fascinating! When and where can I find out the results?
We hope to post some of our ‘headline’ findings here on the website not too long after the survey has closed. These will be some of the results of the initial quantitative analysis – the most frequently learned poems and poets, the age at which poetry tends to be learned, and so on. However, if you’ve done our survey, you’ll know that we also ask a couple of more open-ended questions. The analysis of this qualitative data – which, in turn, we will be looking at in relation both to the other elements of the survey and to work within the wider investigation – is going to take a great deal longer. But again, we will put news of when and where our findings are published on this website.

That’s a long time to wait.
It is. But then good research, as opposed to a quick poll, takes time. In the meantime, we've got a daily snapshot quote on this blog and survey page.

I registered for a reminder but I didn’t get one.
We sent them out on Thursday but there were a very small number of email addresses that bounced back. Apologies if that was one of yours.

I know a Pullinger. Are you related?
Yes. No. Perhaps. But only sort of.

More tomorrow.

Debbie Pullinger
Project researcher