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Spine Festival 2021

Spine festival is an annual festival across London for young people and families to get them to engage with the written and spoken word through a variety of creative art projects run by specially commissioned artists. The project is funded by Apples and Snakes. This year the theme is Empathy and launches on June 1st World children’s day. 

Voices of Tower Hamlets, a poetry performance and activity for the SPINE Festival 2021 

Ever wondered how your local lamppost is feeling? Ever wondered what that phone box has to say?
Join sound artist Dan Mayfield and poet Laila Sumpton, the Tower Hamlets Artists in residence for the SPINE Festival, to explore the sounds and feelings of our neighbourhood.

sound artist Dan Mayfield and poet Laila Sumpton
Families and young writers can download their creative writing activity form here so you can write your own speech in the voice of a local object of your choice! You can submit your writing to the library and artists if you wish for it to be shared on social media or displayed at the Idea Store.
Listen to Year 5 students from Solebay Primary as they perform their stories alongside a soundscape and hear what the bins and CCTV cameras of Tower Hamlets really think!

The Lampost 

I am the Lampost 
and I am feeling lonely, 
tired and depressed. 

I feel tree leaves, peoples hands.
I can feel the leaves tickling me. 

I see people playing, talking, 
and giggling- it makes me feel 
both happy and lonely 

I feel sad because birds and dogs 
poo and pee on me. 
I can hear birds chirping 
and they annoy me a bit 
but some birds are my friends.  

I dream about becoming a human 
and making friends and going to school.

The Old Wise Log

I am the Old Wise Log 
and I am feeling proud 
because I help animals 
and that makes me happy. 

I am a luxury hotel 
for insects living in me. 
I am also a source of shade 
for any passers by. 

Animals like me 
because I can provide
a peaceful and protected 
atmosphere. I feel the tickling 

of the luscious green grass 
which pleases me. As I rest 
I feel the touch of adults sitting on me, 
the ecstatic love of children 
who climb on me with joyful faces. 

I don’t look up to anyone 
but every tree looks up to me 
because I give more knowledge 
to them. I wish to start growing again. 

I smell chicken and chips 
and leftovers all over the ground, 
but also the foul smell of pollution 
often reaches my nose. But I smell 
the pungent aroma of violet flowers 
overwhelming the foul smell of pollution. 

The Sad Bin 

I am the bin and I am feeling 
very sad and depressed
because I am soaking wet 
from last nights rain. 

I can hear shouting between families, 
cars and sirens, car engines, 
dogs barking and rats squeaking! 

I can feel the sharp nails of squirrels 
and rats and hear the horrifying screeching 
sound of people and animals every night. 

I can smell garbage water 
and dog waste plus urine 
and I do not like it 
because I smell a lot! 

I can see people begging for money. 
I can see people cleaning me. 
I can see dogs barking at me 
which makes me scared. 

I can see the president of trash 
passing by, making me jealous. 
I wish to be clean, appreciated, 
free and to be well liked 
as everyone else and not be isolated 
cause of my smell. 

I want dustbin cleaners to clean us bins 
and to be treated as a clean bin. 

Little Ben/The Clock

I am the clock and I am feeling sad 
because everybody uses their phones 
and don’t pay me attention. 

I see people smoking, babies crying, 
cats, dogs, pigeons, great views, 
motorbikes, school kids. 

It makes me feel upset but happy
because seeing little children is nice. 

I smell the pollution from the cars, 
pigeon droppings on me, sweaty people, 
dog droppings, smoke, food, coffee. 

I feel irritated that pigeons poo on me. 
I also feel disgusted 
because I haven't had a bath in years! 

I feel happy but a little sad 
because no pays attention to me 
anymore. My goal is to be 
like my big brother Big Ben. 

I am the clock and I am feeling calm 
because I hear the birds chirping. 
I also feel annoyed because of babies weeping. 
I see a lot of buildings and people walking by 

which gives me company and see trees rustling. 
I want to become bigger and more famous 
like my big bro, Big Ben. I want to grow more. 
I love my big bro. I also love my fellow friends 
the Shard and the Sky Scrapers.

The CCTV Camera 

I am the CCTV camera and I am feeling confused 
because I am carrying a lot of information in my head. 

I like it when people notice me and wave at me, 
but I hate it when people ignore me. 

One day I want to be free and record the queen’s birthday 
and her life behind the camera. I look up to shop cameras 

and robots and the Shard’s camera. I hear what I can see. 
Lately, I heard that someone was trying to break in, 

and the worst thing is I can’t talk and that makes me feel 
so angry! I can smell teacher’s perfumes rushing by, 

but I hate the smell of bins, so I break down. 
I always feel birds droppings on me and bugs 
and ants and it makes me laugh and I taste 
the chemicals when people clean me. I see 

school children from Solebay but I have a disadvantage- 
I can only see in front of me because I can’t turn around. 

I also saw a camera which took a picture of me.