The Poetry Network

Cultural mapping of a territory

Rather than selecting a poet (national or regional) to represent a territory, we begin with a thorough observation of the current poetic network and the different players within it. This project is part of a "literary geography" which is particularly important today. In order to have reliable data, the project based itself on an annual poetry festival – the “Printemps de la poésie” – which has been held throughout Western Switzerland since 2016. While the term "cartography" has indeed become fashionable, it is often used metaphorically. Inherent in its methods, however, is extensive reconnaissance work within the terrain to accurately represent activity within a given territory in terms quantitative and qualitative data. The poetic mapping of a territory therefore became an original project carried out at the University of Lausanne which used data collected since 2011. Besides the events held during one of these springtime festivals, the dynamic map first shows the scope of the past four festivals, thus highlighting the project’s strength and – especially – the  key places and players in poetry in Western Switzerland.


The University of Lausanne collected the statistics used for this mapping from the “Printemps de la poésie” festival. The criteria used to create such a highly precise network map were based on events held, and identified: location, organisation, institutional partnerships, and institution type. A number of quantitative criteria were then used, including audience and budget. Lastly, qualitative criteria were used to weight the whole, namely: host institution scope (from local to international, including regional and national), media recognition, and guest prestige. Professor François Bavaud (Faculty of Letters) oversaw the “statistics” part of the project. 

A team from the Faculty of Geosciences at the University of Lausanne carried out the second part of the project. Professor Christian Kaiser was then able to create an interactive network map from the statistics collected.

Media design – which provides the general public with such a map – was led by Patrick A. Donaldson for the Laboratory for Experimental Museology directed by professor Sarah Kenderdine at EPFL. This team had already  collaborated on the "Super-vision" project (2019) based on the 8,000 theses defended at the EPFL over 50 years. At the time, the project incorporated an interactive browser based on thematic and lexical connections.

Map design and programming:
Kerria Grize, UNIL 
Christian Kaiser, UNIL

Statistics monitoring:
François Bavaud, UNIL 

Media Design:
Patrick A. Donaldson 

Statistics capture:
Sandra Willhalm, UNIL 

Programme development:
Nikolaus Voelzow


1        Michel Collot, Pour une Géographie littéraire, Paris, José Corti, 2015.
2        Florent Gabaude, «Un transfert comme les autres? ‹La cartographie› en littérature et sciences humaines», Revue de l'IFHA.
3        Véronique Maleval (et al.), Géographie poétique et cartographie littéraire, Limoges, Presses Universitaires de Limoges et du Limousin, 2012.