About Pigeon Poetry

Language Use:

This project uses racing lexicon and idiom. Pigeon Poetry is not a gambling activity but a fun promotional activity inspired by poetry to create quality Australian poems and broaden the public’s definition of and engagement with the form.


Illawarra Mercury, 4/8/08 ‘SOS for wayward homing pigeon’ Michelle Hoctor

Choriamb: Poetry News and Reviews, blogpage

Sydney Morning Herald, 4/8/08 ‘Bards of a feather rhyme together’ Deborah Smith

Sydney Morning Herald, 01/08/08 ‘Coo de grace’ Erik Jensen

The Australian, 31/07/08 ‘Poets give Peace a chance’ D.D. McNicoll

ABC website, 31/07/08 ‘Punt on a poetic pigeon’ Rosie Ryan
Interview on radio 2BL

Illawarra Mercury

Sydney Morning Herald, Steve Meacham

Sydney Morning Herald, 18/04/08 ‘For the birds’ Susan Wyndham

The Canberra Times, 10/07/2008 ‘Words take flight’

>> Pigeon Facts

>> Race Date

Sunday 3rd August, 2008

Pigeon Cam:

The Red Room’s film crew, Andrew Garrick and Cat Stone, developed our ‘pigeon cam’ for the race. It’s an 8.5cm x 1.5cm x0.5cm USB-stick sized black box which weighs approx 25g. It can record up to 20mins of footage, including sound. The cam was attached to a ninth bird that was released last. The audience waited in trepidation as the cam bird failed to appear to the catchers back at Graham Davison’s loft.

>> Media Launch

Monday April 14th, 11AM, The Domain, Art Gallery Road, Sydney

>> Pigeon Parents

Eight ‘Pigeon Parents’ supported the racing birds. Giving their names to the thoroughbreds, they included bodies affiliated with communications, broadcasting and alternative media, and two generous individuals: Australian Associated Press (AAP), Thompson-Reuters, Libby Fairfax, Henry Ergas, Sydney PEN, 2SER Radio, This Is Not Art and The Big Issue.

>> The Project

A call-out was made for eight Australian poets to write an original poem on the nature of flight, pigeons, bird or the like. The length limit was 50 lines and none of the poets had previously worked with the Red Room. A virtual form guide was invented for the project’s duration, including details about the birds, poets and poems. Although there were no pay-outs for bets, punters made donations by selecting the bird/poet/poem they thought might win; this put them into a raffle for the chance to win a Pigeon Poetry Race trophy and a pack of the eight Pigeon Poetry poems. See Race Day Details for the results!

This project teamed up with the South Coast Pigeon Federation to take a unique look at the relationship between sport, poetry and gaming. Steve Saywell and Alan Kerr from the Federation handled the birds on the day and performed the “liberation” or release. The thoroughbreds groomed for the race were a combination of birds from the lofts of Steve and Australian champions Graham and June Davison. The project was partly inspired by the work of Australian poet, Robert Adamson, who was one of the poets in the project (http://www.robertadamson.com).

How the race was flown:

The birds contested a time trial similar to the way the Tour de France works. The birds were released at a designated time and their flight time electronically recorded when they landed at the loft around 15–20 minutes later. They accompanying pacer birds dropped off about halfway and the poem birds finished the rest of the time trials by themselves.