Vending Machine Poetry

Smoking has been banned in England in enclosed spaces, including pubs. There’s an opportunity to use the cigarette vending machines to vend… poetry?

M-m, I can see the logic and generally I’m in favour of innovative ways of getting poems to audiences, but I’m uneasy about this.

1. Who reads in pubs?

I do, but I don’t drink or smoke and have more books than friends, so it’s safe to assume I’m the exception rather than the rule. Pubs are for socialising, chatting with friends or tolerating a monologue from the loner at the end of the bar. Yep, sit in a pub long enough and someone will talk to you. Hardly the environment to inspire ‘could do with something to read, oh, look I’m in luck a poetry vending machine!’ type thoughts.

2. Small Print.

Cigarette packets are the ideal size for haiku and related verse forms, triolets, limericks and government health warnings. Anything sonnet-sized is longer isn’t going to fit. Unless the print is miniaturised or the paper is folded. Folds are weaknesses: several re-readings later the poems will have disintegrated, the buyer will feel robbed and will never buy a vending machine poem again. Layout is vitally important in a poem. Readers need to see where the line end and stanza breaks are.

I don’t see the fag-packet format lasting.