Mixed Messages – be part of a poem


What do you long to say to someone?

Your words could be part of a poem. Leave the phone message you always wanted to, but couldn’t. Some or all of the words in your message could be picked to be part of a poem for National Poetry Day.

Leave a voicemail saying the thing you’ve always wanted to say to 07856 853675 by 30 June.

Don’t like phones or used up all your free minutes? That’s not a problem. You can also text your message to 07856 853675 or email to mixedmessagespoetry@gmail.com

Want to find out more about the Mixed Messages project? Check out the FAQs.

The Small Print

By leaving a voicemail or sending a text to the Mixed Messages number, you are giving permission for excerpted words of your message to be used anonymously in a poem. Original voicemail recordings will NOT be publicly shared. Resulting poems may be shared via this blog or Twitter. If you have any questions about this, please email Georgi at mixedmessagespoetry@gmail.com.




Mixed Messages resources: over to you!

Image by Benjamin Chun, shared under a CC licence, available at http://www.flickr.com

Listening to and reading all the messages that people have sent in has been fascinating, affecting, humbling and occasionally hilarious – thank you to everyone who sent a message in. I’ve found twelve Mixed Messages poems in the messages and sincerely hope that I’ve succeeded in being true to the original messages. My intention was not to change the messages but find the poetry in them and amplify the their meanings.

My role in finding the poems is now complete but with National Poetry Day fast approaching, it’s over to you! In my role at the Scottish Poetry Library, I’ve created some learning resources for schools so that teachers and librarians can run their own Mixed Messages projects with classes and writing groups.

If you work with an adult writing group or are an individual who’s looking for a new poetry challenge, have a look at the resources. There are ideas and advice that could be easily adapted to suit your needs.

Download mixed-messages-in-schools learning resources.

So have a go and have fun. We’d love to read the poems that result from your Mixed Messages projects. Send them in to mixedmessagespoetry@gmail.com or education@spl.org.uk and maybe we’ll share them here on the blog!



Mixed Messages poems #11 & #12: Thank you haiku

Balloon image by warrenski, shared under a CC licence available at http://www.flickr.com

Thank u, Miss Riding

A fragrant spice jar bright

xperimentational zing –

a writing rucksack, my wings!


Thank u, Tracey

A patchwork of granny squares

your letters r packages

full of news, love and fun.

These haiku were found in text messages sent in response to the Mixed Messages call for messages of gratitude. You can read the other poems found in the messages we received here.

Coming soon: resources for schools, libraries and writing groups to set up their own Mixed Messages poetry projects!

Mixed Messages poem #9: ‘URGENT’




Message received:

Had to go back for the kettle.

Running late but on my way now.

An urgent thing has happened.

They have put Katie in the basement at work. X x x x x x

Crikey. Have you got any fingernails left? Xxx

She is an adult, and, unlike you, probably has a sex life.

Otherwise I’m fine. Just a bit sore and itchy.

Bloody squirrel has dismantled my nut fort!

 Running late…

Just to clarify we don’t go out so don’t get any ideas

Have put chainsaw and cable indoors out of rain.

Told him to stick it and found a Chinese

Running late but on my way now

I am never without monkeys.

dental appointment with Mr Chan at 08:10 on 17/05/16

An amalgam of infinite, unique, essential particles.

To accompany monkeys is my purpose in life.

(inside of tomato puree tubes are gold)

Running late

‘URGENT’ is the ninth poem in the Mixed Messages series. As with all the other poems so far it has been created as a found poem from the messages that were sent in by the public. The messages used in ‘URGENT’ were responses to the Twitter request to send us a random text message from your phone – very random they were too! To see other Mixed Messages poems click here.



NEWSFLASH: Mixed Messages audio

‘Microphone’ image by Quinn Dombrowski, shared under a CC Licence available at http://www.flickr.com

Mixed Messages was conceived as a project of three creative stages. The first step was to call for and collect messages from the public. You all responded by the (mail) sack load  – thank you! Stage two was, and continues to be, the finding of the poems, both as excerpts from individual messages and mash ups of combined message elements.

But poems really come alive when they are lifted off the page or screen and into our mouths and ears so for stage three we are recording volunteers reading the poems.

So far we have two audio recordings of Ellie McKay reading, ‘Suddenly‘ and ‘Japanese Cranes‘ and two recordings of Craig McCorquodale reading ‘Stupid Passing Fancy‘ and ‘Mild Concussion‘.

With the original messages, there were no back stories or contexts provided which is both a joyful mystery and a challenge when I am writing the poems! Similarly the poems were given to Ellie and Craig without back story so their performances reflect their own interpretations.

We are planning to record audio for more of the poems. If you have taken a shine to one of them and would like to try out for a chance to be its voice, drop us a line at mixedmessagespoetry@gmail.com to find out more. Everyone who participates in Mixed Messages is doing so on a voluntary basis – we have no funding and make no financial profit from the project. As such we cannot pay for your voice artistry but would love to hear you!

Mixed Messages poem #8: ‘Being human’

Rafa Mora Arévalo
Face in the Crowd. Image by Rafa Mora Arévalo. Shared under a Creative Commons Licence available at http://www.flickr.com

Being human

It was all new to me. I googled your name,

closed the browser window when your photo

appeared – I understood what I had felt.


I’ve driven the long way round to see

if you were there. I stood on a log,

looked into the crowd, found your face,


and I hid. I really do rile at myself.

I feel so unfriendly – I just want to be friendly

but I’ve unvolunteered my volunteering.


I miss the daily pulse-quickening of seeing you

Avoiding you is easily the hardest thing

I’ve ever had to do.

This poem, like all the others in the Mixed Messages project was created using found text contributed by the public in voicemails, texts, emails and tweets. If you missed the earlier poems in the series, you can catch up here.

Mixed Messages poem #10 ‘I fly on clandestine wings’

‘Stars’ image by Tobias Van Der Elst, shared under a CC licence, available at http://www.flickr.org

I fly on clandestine wings*

The velvet lawn of sky, is daisied over with stars,

I can only navigate without a map, taking routes

into unknown terrain, on clandestine wings,

hoping that words

are enough to bind us together.

I wish

I could dig into the subtext of all these words unsaid

I could find clarity.


*We’re not sure if our messager was knowingly inspired by Neruda or if it was a happy coincidence but ‘alas clandestinas’ (‘clandestine wings’) feature in ‘Aqui termini’. ‘Acqui termini’ is part of Canto XV of Pablo Neruda’s Canto General (Ediciones Catedra S.A., 1990).

At Mixed Messages we’re celebrating the 2016 National Poetry Daytheme of Messages by using texts, emails, tweets and voicemails sent in by members of the public to create found poetry. Catch up on our earlier poems here.

Mixed Messages poem #7: ‘Thank you’


Thank you

9am: you teased me,

you managed to direct my bus pass into the coin box.


2pm: you made me misfire

when I tried to talk to a colleague who has been avoiding me.


5pm: You have exhausted me.

I’m weak now, all because of you and your daily friends.


You made me realise

I still have one more working day to go.


Thank you, Thursday, I hope you feel good about yourself.

This is the seventh poem in the Mixed Messages project. Mixed Messages aims to say it with a poem by using texts, emails, tweets and voicemails sent in by members of the public to create found poetry in celebration of National Poetry 2016. Catch up on our earlier poems here.

Mixed Messages poem #6:’Lost’

Have you seen this animal? ‘Brown rat’ image by Jean-Jacques Boujot shared under a CC licence, available at flickr.com

I took your Millie out in the garden to play

She wasn’t unfaithful, your little brown rat


I let her smell freedom, floral scents so strong

they stung my nostrils. I let her smell freedom,


she embraced it, and at the accidental moment

I looked the other way. I shouldn’t have.


Sun shining and floral scents so strong,

that’s no excuse though, I lost her.


I let her smell freedom, she embraced it,

Millie, your little brown rat.

Mixed Messages is a project which celebrates the 2016 National Poetry Day theme of Messages by using texts, emails, tweets and voicemails sent in by members of the public to create found poetry. Catch up on our earlier poems here.

Mixed Messages poem #5: ‘Sorry, sorrier still’

Image by Timothy Brown shared under a CC licence, available at flickr.com

 I want to tell you I am sorry

I need you to know

I’m just so sorry. I know

how much you need the time.

I’m sorry

I couldn’t see you again,

I still don’t know if it was the right call.

I am sorry I didn’t come.

Sorry that I wasn’t my best today,

that I couldn’t take you home with me.

I am sorry you took the tablets

I am sorry I didn’t come.

I wish I were the one

so I could have seen you one last time.

I’m so sorry,

sorry you were alone at the end.

I think of us

in parallel universes,

and I am sorry.

I just keep making the same mistakes.

‘Sorry, sorrier still’ is the fifth poem in the Mixed Messages sequence. In May and June we put a call out for the texts, voicemails, tweets and emails that people had wanted to send but for some reason hadn’t. The resulting poems have been ‘found’ in the phrases of the messages that were sent in. If you missed the first four poems, why not catch up here.



Mixed Messages poem #4: ‘Suddenly’


Now featuring an audio recording of Ellie McKay reading ‘Suddenly’. With thanks to Colin Waters and the Scottish Poetry Library for sound engineering and hosting on their SoundCloud page.


I don’t quite know what to say,

                                    what I should say.

I wish I’d told you

                       all that I could have said.

I wish I’d told you how much I loved you

instead of quarrelling about my short skirts

and wearing make up to school.

                       all that I could have said,

                       what I should have said.


                       No goodbye. Nothing.

Never to be repeated.


‘Suddenly’ is the fourth poem in the Mixed Messages sequence. Like the others, it is a found poem created from texts, voicemails, emails and tweets sent in by members of the public. You can read the other poems in the series in the ‘Poems’ tag.