Elena Knox

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Palinpoem for Pete's sake

2006, 2008, 2012

Palinpoem for Pete’s sake is a commissioned textual installation for an art gallery staircase, installed in 3 iterations over 6 years.

Artist Statement

I went and viewed the staircase from street level. I climbed up and down. For the gallery, the stairs were clearly more about inviting people in than escorting them out. It struck me that I was in the same terrain as council signwriters who paint instructions on road surfaces for readers who are assumed to be travelling forward whilst reading. I could never fathom why it is assumed that the first word encountered is the one that will be read first. Who instinctively reads from the bottom up?



I like the disrupture to the normal phrases; workaday surrealism.

In order not to be worried about whether people might read my work from the top step down or from the bottom step up, I wrote poems inspired by numerical palindromes: formulaic constructions which satisfied me that they made poetic ‘sense’ in both directions. Two for the price of one; read them both ways!

Documentation of Palinpoem for Pete’s sake has been published in a variety of contexts on 3 continents, and included on the syllabus for an Oxford University summer writing course.


A Slice of Cherry Pie, published in Wales and USA
The Alternative Press Anthology, UK
The Material Poem, Australia