Letters to The Healing Place of the Soul #FillingTheVoid – Write to Us

Public Art Participation Project – WRITE TO US NOW!

We live in extraordinary times.  We will gladly receive your (emailed) letters to FillingTheVoidProject@gmail.com. We will miss the immediacy of your handwriting and your envelopes, the physicality of the letter, but we will gain the immediacy of your lived experience of these times. We are extending and re-opening our project, but as an online experience, given the implications of Covid-19 – so email us instead.

Tell us what is happening day to day. How have things changed? What is different but good about the changes? What is it that is making you anxious? What and whom do you miss? To paraphrase the French avant grade artist Georges Perec, what is happening, when nothing is happening? 

The motto over the door of the historic Robinson Library in Armagh translates from the Greek, as The Healing Place of the Soul.  We are looking beyond these times. In March 2021, when we celebrate 250 years of the existence of the library, we will mark with a new site-specific dance theatre piece, AT THE MARGINS, based on the letters project and the participation of those who sent us their words. Join in – this is a place to tell us all of human experience in these challenging and unusual circumstances. Let the words talk, and let the words travel the distance, from you, to us.


In our last iteration of this project, we had hundreds of beautiful, intimate and heartfelt letters in response to our call-out for #FillingTheVoid https://mariamcmanus.wordpress.com/2019/10/30/write-us-a-letter-filling-the-void/. Our writers wrote to the future and to the past, to people they love and about things that matter most. They made us laugh, they touched our hearts and they made us think. They also made us realise that through writing their letters, the opportunity to reflect, record the everyday, and connect with each other, is responding to a deeply held need to communicate.

The letters came from Australia, Spain, the UK and all over Ireland. During Georgian Festival we had many  visitors to the library on the day, and those that came also wrote letters – some were posted there and then, to friends and family from the beautiful Georgian letterbox on the street outside the Robinson Library, and others were left with us for the archive.

This is a time for reflection and a time when we need to connect. We are navigating  new uncertainties about the state of our world and where it is we find ourselves now, individually and with each other. 

This project is creating a contemporary epistolary archive written by citizens – especially the citizens of Armagh, but also from all over Northern Ireland, the border area, the island of Ireland, Britain, Europe and the whole world. Everything in a letter tells something –  the handwriting, post marks, the subject matter, the demographic and concerns of the writer: the letter is a  point in time pen-portrait.  We are also interested in receiving correspondence which for some reason has personal significance to the donor.

Letters are welcome from people of all ages and ethnicities, from anywhere in the world, on any topic they may wish to record. Then we will include it in our archive in the beautiful Armagh RobinsonLibrary for posterity and consider all letters received when were are devising our site specific dance theatre piece – AT THE MARGINS, in March 2021.   

  • If you wrote the letter you wanted to write, to whom would you write it?
  • What would you write about? A letter to your childhood home, the parent you’ve lost, your old lover, those pesky politicians, your heroine/ hero, the generations yet to come, the child in your arms, or in your womb, your idol, the lost, the prodigal, the fictional, the historical?
  • Who would be the object of your letter? We live in such uncertain and turbulent times. What do you have to say …what is the ‘thing’ you can write about in a letter, but just can’t say any other way?
  • Is yours letter to the masses, or to just one person?  To your older self? Your younger self? Your braver self – something for the record.

Letters from anyone, about anything are welcome. 

  Email us : FillingTheVoidProject@gmail.com

Maria McManus (Poet) is the author of Available Light (Arlen House, 2018), We are Bone (2013)The Cello Suites(2009) and Reading the Dog (2006) (Lagan Press). She has collaborated extensively with others producing performance pieces for choir (18, with composer Keith Acheson) dance (TURF and DUST with Eileen McClory) and multi-art form collaborations. She is Artistic Director and curator of Poetry Jukebox, an on-street audio installation of contemporary poetry.



Poetry Jukebox – Call for Submissions – Once Barefoot… Belfast/ Paris edition


with Belfast City Council and  Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris

 Once barefoot…  

Who amongst us is able to number the end of grasses
To number the losses of each seeding head?

I’ll walk out once
Barefoot under the moon to know the field
Through the soles of my feet to hear
The myriad leaf lives green and singing
The million million cycles of being in wing

                                     from, Death of a Field by Paula Meehan


Internationally acclaimed poets Stephen Sexton  and Maria McManus  co-curate an international edition of first class contemporary poetry for our favourite on-street audio installation, Poetry Jukebox. This edition,  drawn from a world-wide call for submissions on the theme of climate, the environment and our relationship with the blue planet we call ‘home’.

In January 2020, Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris https://www.centreculturelirlandais.com will launch its poetry jukebox and we join forces with Belfast City Council’s Tropical Ravine http://www.belfastcity.gov.uk/tourism-venues/TropicalRavine/TropicalRavine.aspx   to draw attention to the beauty of wild spaces, biodiversity and the threat of climate change to our oceans, countries, weather flora, fauna and humanity itself.

Supported by Arts Council of Northern Ireland,  from National Lottery funds, The British Council (NI),  Centre Culturel Irlandais, Poetry Ireland, Belfast City Council .


Images: Simon Hutchinson courtesy of Belfast International Arts Festival 2017

Submission criteria – Please read carefully!

  • Each poet can send a maximum of one poem
  • Submission by midnight Sunday 1stDecember 2019
  • EMAIL SUBJECT LINE: Please include Once barefoot…in the subject line.
  • Email to poetryjukebox@gmail.com
  • Poems must be submitted in audio format.
  • Poems should be accompanied by a short biographical note ( max. 50 words) in the body of the email
  • Please submit good quality sounds files in MP3, MP4 or WAV format. (Smart phone voice files or good quality dictaphones such as Zoom H1 are ideal recording devices.) See the guidance notes (below) about how to make a good enough recording. Large files can be sent by WeTransfer to poetryjukebox@gmail.com
  • Poems in languages other than in English are welcome, however they must be accompanied by the poem in translation to English too. (Please record back to back in one sound file.)
  • Please be aware the jukeboxes are in a public space and children may be listening. Profanity will automatically rule out a poem’s use.

Some guidance for making a good  enough recording:

  • Each poem should be no longer than 2 minutes max. when read aloud, but one minute or  one minute and thirty-seconds works best in this format.
  • Find a quiet space to do your recording. Listen for, and become aware of any background noise, such as traffic, clicks, pets, children etc, and do something to minimise the background noises –  such as closing doors, closing the curtains, go to a different room etc
  • Don’t record in the kitchen – the recording device will pick up vibrational noise from the fridge.
  • Switch off all low energy light bulbs in the vicinity ( they also generate vibrational noise)
  • Use a Smart phone such as an iPhone, Experia or similar
  • Go to the Voice Memo app
  • It is helpful to place your phone on top of a pile of books, 8-12 inches from your mouth. Putting it on top of a pile of books will also help to keep the phone steady
  • Read in a natural voice but pay attention to your diction.
  • On recording, (wait 2 beats) Read the TITLE (wait 1 beat) YOUR NAME (wait 2 beats),
  • Read the POEM then repeat the TITLE (wait 1 beat) YOUR NAME (wait 2 beats). Save.
  • Poems in translation to English should be recorded in the original language first, with the English translation following in a single sound file.

Publication Rights

  • Poems previously published elsewhere ARE accepted, provided the author can assign the rights for the purposes of Poetry Jukebox to Quotidian – Word on the Street Ltd.
  • Quotidian – Word on the Street Ltd will not be held liable if a poem assigning the rights of use by the poet, later emerges to have infringed on other publishers’ rights.
  • Where poems are submitted in a language other than English, you may also include a translation of the poem recorded in English – back to back in the same voice file.
  • Payment: We are delighted that we can pay a small stipend of £35 for each contemporary poem.
  • Prior to publication the poetmustgive Quotidian – Word on the Street Ltdthe audio and recording rights to use the submitted poem on the Poetry Jukebox, on the internet, at launches etc. We do not expect to have exclusive rights.

About Poetry Jukebox & Quotidian –Word on the Street Limited

Poetry Jukebox is a Quotidian –Word on the Street Ltd project. Wee re based in Belfast. Quotidian is a not-for-profit literary arts production company limited by guarantee, the remit of which is to enhance civic spaces by animating them in innovative ways, with literature. The Poetry Jukebox is an on-street sound installation that provides an innovative new platform for poetry. A poetry jukebox is located in the grounds of The Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. We have two others which undertake residencies with festivals and institutions. The project is led by Artistic Director and poet Maria McManus.

This is a tiny not-for-profit organisation – we do not have the resources to give individual feedback, nor enter into correspondence. Quotidian -Word on the Street Ltd reserves the right to make decisions which support the project and the spirit of the project.

Poetry Jukebox, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, was launched as part of the Belfast International Arts Festival in October 2017. Poetry Jukebox was brought to Belfast by collaboration between Quotidian – Word on the Street Limited and Piana na uLici, Czech Republic. There is a maximum of twenty recordings per curation.

To learn more about Poetry Jukebox follow on Twitter @poetryjukeboxor click on these links https://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/poetry-jukebox-amplifying-quiet-voices-and-beautiful-words-1.3244063



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