The Poetry Society unveils the world's largest knitted poem at the British Library, October 2009

Knit a Poem

The Poetry Society rolled out its giant centenary poem at the British Library, London, on 7 October 2009. Revealed in its full glory. The eye-popping, 13 x 9 metre, hand-knitted version of Dylan Thomas’s ‘In my Craft or Sullen Art’ (which can be read in full below) stopped passers-by in their tracks and quickly drew an admiring crowd.

This crowd included knitters and crocheters who had helped to make the piece (and for whom it was the first opportunity to see it fully assembled), as well as the national press.

The poem is the work of more than one thousand knitters and crocheters worldwide, who furiously clicked needles and hooks throughout September, to turn the individual letters of Thomas’s poem into colourful 12-inch squares.

Judith Palmer, Director of the Poetry Society, commented:

“We wanted to celebrate the Society’s centenary with a fun, grand-scale project in which many people could participate, that was about ‘poetry’ but also summoned up the idea of ‘society’, to reflect all the thousands of people who’ve kept the Society going since 1909. The time, commitment and creative skills that people have given to this enterprise has been overwhelming.”

The giant knitted poem was displayed at the Southbank Centre, London, to help celebrate National Poetry Day Live, and displayed in Swansea, Thomas’s home town, at the end of October. It has since toured all around the country.  

Vital statistics:

Left to right measurement: 13 metres (43 ft) at its widest point
Top to bottom measurement: 8.7 metres (28 ft) at its widest point
Number of squares: 1000+ 

For more info, contact [email protected].

Dylan Thomas

In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.
Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art. 

Copyright Dylan Thomas. Used by Permission of David Higham Associates.

In My Craft or Sullen Art was the poem chosen for the Poetry Society's Knit a Poem project, unveiled on October 7 2009. 

 Knit A Poem


January 2011
The Poetry Society's knitted poem will be on display at StAnza, Scotland's international poetry festival, later this year. See knitted poem tour dates.

December 2010
Poetry Society photographer, Hayley Madden, received a gold award in the press category of the SWPP and BPPA 2010 photo competition for a photograph of the knitted poem.

October 2010
Blackpool has unveiled its own knitted poem, immortalising in wool a poem by John Siddique. This follows other poems inspired by the Poetry Society's pioneering centenary project, including one in Swindon and one in Much Wenlock