Supporting Local News

Galway poets make final crowdfunding push to bring Poetry Jukebox to the West

It looks like the periscope in a submarine – but this is a concept to take to the highways and byways rather than the depths of the deep blue sea, taking the arts into the community in a whole new way…in a massive portable jukebox.

The poetry jukebox does exactly what it says on the tin; you select your choice of poem by a local artist, wind up the handle and take time out to let the words flow over you in the voice of the poet themselves.

The initiative is originally the idea of Prague based Piano-on-the-Streets. The cultural activist Ondrej Kobza is the brains behind the project which, he says, seeks to bring culture such as poetry to ‘non-traditional areas’.

Belfast recently acquired its own Poetry Jukebox; there is one in Dublin and in the Patrick Kavanagh Centre in Monaghan.

Late last year two Galway poets and arts enthusiasts launched a plan to bring the Poetry Jukebox to the city and county – this one as a mobile version that could travel to festivals, hospitals, nursing homes or community events to add to the cultural landscape.

James O’Toole and Jim Ward are both published poets but also cultural innovators, and they see this as a unique way of bringing poetry – and indeed recorded music – to the masses in a different way.

The cost of getting this particular show on the road is around €17,500 – and that includes the jukebox itself, getting it insured and encased so that it can be transported from venue to venue.

The HSE is happy to facilitate its location at premises under its authority, including hospitals and nursing homes. And the organisers are happy to take the jukebox on the road so that it can be deployed at local festivals or community events.

Fundraising efforts to date have raised around €12,000 – and now the two promoters have launched a final push to get this over the line, so the jukebox can be knocking out the poems in time for the summer.

“I want to get the summer out of this across the city and county. I’ve a good few places looking for it, but we need to get this final funding push to work before we can start,” said James, well known as well in the world of sport through his involved with so many clubs and from his Sports Physiotherapy Clinic on Henry Street.

While it’s called the poetry jukebox, its scope isn’t just limited to poems; it can also store music – anything that can be recorded and put onto an MP3 – and James sees this as a platform for up-and-coming talent on that musical front as well.

“There are loads of great, young bands out there – and I want to give them this platform as well. We can change the selection – add new ones, take out older ones – all of the time, so that this stays fresh.

Many Galwegians will be familiar with the concept too after a temporary Poetry Jukebox was installed outside Galway Museum as part of an exhibition on the Centenary Decade. That also featured local poets.

“The original is a steel object encased into the ground in concrete; you crank it up and you’ll have 20 local poets on an MP3 reading their work – or musicians playing their music from the local area,” explained Jim, who is also an acclaimed tour guide and political activist.

“The content would be constantly rotated to keep it fresh and offer more opportunities to all,” he added.

But to get to that point, they need one more push to ensure the finance is in place. Anyone who would like to help can find further details on their iDonate Crowdfunder campaign at

Pictured: James O’Toole and Jim Ward….driving forces behind the poetry jukebox, an example of which is inset. PHOTO: JOE O’SHAUGHNESSY.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app

The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

More like this:

Sign Up To get Weekly Sports UPDATES

Go Up