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On the cotton

“You will not acquire sufficient knowledge simply by studying a map. There is no substitute for travelling the routes.”

I’ve been searching for this deep understanding my whole life

little realising that this sublime realisation –

like all divine visions –

was to found in an unlikely place:

The Knowledge of London…


- from ‘Acquiring Knowledge’, Dan Simpson

To be ‘on the cotton’ in London taxi driver terms is to take the shortest route from one place to another. That may well be within the 6-mile radius from Charing Cross: the map of streets and places of interest every cabbie must learn as part of The Knowledge. 

Image of a black cab in london

With funding from Arts Council England – and in partnership with London Transport Museum, the Poetry Society, and Spread the Word - I explored this historic and contemporary trade. The project involved:


  • Recruiting London poets and drivers and facilitating them to create poetry

  • Writing a pamphlet of poetry

  • Marketing and hosting a showcase of collaborative and solo work

  • Delivering professional development sessions for emerging poets 

  • Creating a filmed documentary of the project

  • Hosting a screening of the documentary and Q&A at the London Transport Museum 

On the Cotton Project in the newspaper
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