A NEW tour round Oxford is taking visitors on a unique walk through the city’s literary history.

The Oxford Poetry Walk, an hour-long audio wander through the city centre, was launched at the Oxford Playhouse on Monday.

Walkers are guided from the theatre, down Broad Street, through university buildings and along some of the city’s busiest shopping streets.

Along the way they hear poetry from the likes of CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Creator Helen Eastman, from performers Live Canon, said: “This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time.

“Oxford is a real literary city and the idea is to make people look at the places and buildings they know in a totally different way.

“All the poems are about the city or by people from the city, and they span about 500 years.”

The walk is part of the Playhouse Plays Out series of performances, which aim to get people enjoying theatre in new and unusual ways.

People take the walk at their own pace, picking up an MP3 player, headphones and an illustrated map from the Playhouse.

CS Lewis’ poem Oxford is read sitting in St Giles, looking over towards the Eagle and Child pub where he drank.

Miss Eastman said: “There is something special about standing outside the pub where CS Lewis sat, while listening to a poem he wrote in there.”

She added: “We have a lot of contemporary poetry too.

“As you walk through the Clarendon Centre you hear a fantastic poem called Central Oxford Summer Shopper by Danielle Moffat about walking through the crowds.

“Another poem is a bit of a rant about the city’s one-way system by Kingsley Amis.”

Poems are performed by three actors from Live Canon, a group of professional actors and others involved in theatre.

Miss Eastman added: “There were literally thousands of poems we could have included in this, but we hope we’ve chosen ones which really show off the city and which are accessible to everyone.

“It’s a nice way to see the city.”

Oxford Playhouse spokesman Madeleine Woolgar said: “I’ve lived in Oxford for so long now and you find things you didn’t know existed.

“So it’s perfect for people who haven’t been to the city before but also for people who live here.

It’s a fantastic walk. You just have a smile on your face the whole time.”

The audio tour costs £3 per person and visitors need a form of ID at the ticket office as deposit for the MP3 player. It is available Monday to Saturday from 10am to 6.30pm (4.30pm when there is no evening show at the Playhouse) until Saturday, September 29.