A two-year-old and a centenarian are among those to have penned verses for a Bradford on Avon man who is attempting to create the world’s longest poem.

Alan Summers, of Market Street, is bidding to create the mammoth Japanese renga poem over the next month, with the help of Bath Library, where he is the official poet in residence.

He is urging people across Wiltshire to email, text or send him verses of two or three lines for the poem, which has been called the 1,000 Verse Renga, although it is hoped it will be more than 1,000 verses.

Mr Summers, who took his place on Anthony Gormley’s fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, in July, where he recited local people’s important words, said he has collected more than 250 verses so far, including submissions from fellow poets in Africa, the USA, members of the deaf community, homeless people and staff and residents from an NHS Medium Secure Unit.

He said: “The project is ground-breaking as the aim is to write a ‘senku’ renga, something that we think has never been completed before in Europe.

“Technically we start with a three-line verse, of very short lines.

“We’re not going to stop anyone from adding something that looks slightly different. It doesn’t matter what background people have, they can contribute.

“We had a Korean man write a verse in his national language.

“It’s gaining momentum and it is constantly evolving.

“The most interesting submissions are the most mundane. That is what people like to know. We don’t really want anything too fancy or too thought out – it must be spontaneous.

“It’s like overhearing part of a funny conversation, but only hearing the middle of it.”

A schoolboy in Bristol is contacting the Guinness Book of Records on Mr Summers’ behalf, to see if they can have the poem officially recognised as a World Record.

Mr Summers, who is the Embassy of Japan’s roving haiku and renga poet, said the traditional poems date back more than 1,000 years, with people often gathering in a room for days on end, reading, sleeping and writing the poetry.

All the verses collected by Mr Summers will be put on to cards and exhibited at Bath Central Library, in The Podium shopping centre.

He hopes to involve local libraries too, including the one in his home town of Bradford.

The poetry record attempt will run until the second week of November.

Mr Summers then hopes to create an ebook, an online collection of all the submissions, and two printed copies to be stored at Bath Library for people to view.

To submit a verse you can email 1000verses@withwords.org.uk, or text 07797 806545.

Poetry’s for sharing

Renga is a traditional Japanese group poem that is “shared writing”, where anyone is allowed the chance to write or orally suggest a verse.

The opening stanza of the renga is called the hokku, which has become the basis for the modern haiku form of poetry, now referred to as the shortest poem in the world.

Two of the most famous masters of renga were the 13th century Buddhist priest Sogi and 15th century poet Matsuo Basho.

Although solo renga continues to be written, three to four is considered to be the minimum number for a renga group.