Facing a long ride home on the Underground? Why not head over to the nearest vending machine and get yourself a snack and a book of poetry? Starting in December 2000, the publisher Travelman has been provided three vending machines in South Kensington Station with £1.00 books. On Valentine's Day, books of poetry featuring a collection of different poets were distributed from the machines, which before had distributed only works of short fiction.

Gumball poetry is the current American version of vending machine poetry. Gumball poetry is available through gumball dispensing machines which, instead of the usual waxy-tasting bubble gum, are filled with plastic containers, each containing a poem.

The current list of cities which have gumball poetry dispensers in them are Portland, Oregon; Olympia, Washington; and Missoula, Montana. There is a comprehensive list of the exact locations and a picture of a gumball poetry machine at :


Gumball poetry was set up in order to make poetry more readily available against a background of lessening support for poetry publications by large publishing corporations, many of whom have stopped publishing poetry because there is simply not enough quick money in it. For a fuller explanation of the aims of gumball poetry, see the page at :


Personally, I think this is a great enterprise. Instead of whining about something they don’t like, these people have come up with a radical, workable solution. How refreshing and appealing! Their web site is excellent too. Follow the 'home' link on either of the above URLs to see the whole site.

If anyone feels like sending me a gumball poem in its cute little plastic bubble, /msg me and we’ll talk about a suitable reward.

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