In sixteen hundred and thirteen the first
Part of a lengthy poem saw the light:
Drayton's "Poly-Olbion" a well versed
Epic which seemed contrived or even trite.

An undertaking which embraced such folly
But remains still a monument that we
 Will now emulate in a new Poly
Olbion, a kind of poetic spree
In which you dear reader can play your part
Become a writer topographical
And map in words the landscapes of your heart
In your own measures full poetical
Please write, yes write, two thousand words or so
To celebrate that place that you call home
Then all the world wide web wide world will know
Whether it is Banbury, Bath or Hay
That you, your words set down, have emailed them
To the editor@polyolbion.org.uk

The aim of this project is to create a new guide to Britain in verse. It is born out of an admiration for the way in which verse, particularly in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, was applied to so many different types of writing task from topographical description  to scientific treatise and a conviction that by casting text - any kind of text - into poetic form we can give it added layers of meaning and significance. Poetry can do more than fill the pages of poetry books.

Some of the contributions are by myself and some by friends and acquaintances, none of whom are professional poets, but there is a wider more democratic aim. We wish to collect contributions from individual writers who are prepared to celebrate their locality in verse and share it on-line on this site. The ultimate objective is for this work to be commercially published and put on sale. If you would like to contribute please note the following guidelines:

  • The contribution should be confined to a description of a particular village, town or city, although contributions for large cities could focus on a particular district.
  • The contribution should be mainly topographical - that is to say it describes physical features particularly landscapes and buildings.
  • The contribution my include pen portraits of the inhabitants to add 'local colour' but the focus is on places rather than people.
  • The contribution should be specific and literal rather than figurative and impressionistic
  • The contribution should be written as a poem, either in some recognised verse form or in free verse.
  • The contribution should ideally be between 2,000 and 3,000 words although we can be flexible about this.

The best way to get a grip on the way the project is going is by reading some of the offerings already included below. I shall include all contributions on the web site - even if it means duplicating entries for some locations. Once I have around 50 suitable contributions with a reasonable geographic spread I will start the search for a publisher and keep everyone informed as to progress. Contributions may be anonymous but it is much more interesting for all concerned if you could submit and we could publish a brief statement about each contributor. Will there be any money to be made out of this? Probably not, certainly we are not paying for contributions to the web site, beyond that it is hard to say until one begins detailed discussions with a publisher. Whatever happens we will not print anything without obtaining your agreement and permission.

Please email me at


with comments, queries or, best of all, contributions.