The Royal Mail is postmarking millions of items of mail nationwide with National Poetry Day on 6 October: an honour reserved only for special occasions and significant events.
St Pancras International station is to become Poetry Central for the day, in partnership with the Betjeman Poetry Prize, Poet in the City and Maslaha. Poetry-printed train tickets will be distributed to travellers and poet storytellers will be stationed throughout St Pancras engaging passing commuters and visitors in immersive poetry experiences using new and old Landais (a form of poetry written in Afghanistan).The Betjeman prize-giving this afternoon, hosted by poet Imtiaz Dharker, will see six young talents recite their work, alongside a reading from Joanna Lumley. The evening will bring live poetry pop-ups, interactive events, and performances from poets Bridget Minamore and Sabrina Mahfouz. London’s underground stations – notably Covent Garden and Oval – will be sharing poems with travellers throughout the day.
In Staffordshire, Sally Crabtree, the world’s first Poetry Postie, is using carrier pigeons to fly verse across the skies. In Edinburgh, a highly unusual answerphone is turning anonymous messages into poems: in Bradford, poetry films will feature on the Bradford Big Screen in Centenary Square, while in Antarctica, scientists from the British Antarctic Survey will share a climate change poem by Nancy Campbell with the only audience available for miles: penguins.
In Wales four young poets will be locked up to compose 100 poems in twenty four hours, on subjects chosen by the public. The participants in Literature Wales’ Her 100 Cerdd will take suggestions via social media and BBC Radio Cymru, posting the results online.
In Scotland, 380,000 poetry postcards have been given away by the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh, while in Glasgow, the Big Issue is working with Glasgow Libraries to mobilise poets, librarians, street vendors and Creative Scotland colleagues to give poetry readings at 30 different locations around the city.
In Northern Ireland, Funeral Services Northern Ireland celebrates National Poetry Day with the finals of the Ireland National Poetry competition at the Parliament Buildings in Stormont.
“A poem can reach places that prose just can’t” says Susannah Herbert, National Poetry Day director. “That’s why we’re inviting all with anything important to say today, to say it with a poem. It can be new or old, utterly original or a familiar favourite. It can be deep and dark, funny or memorable. By enjoying, discovering or sharing a poem – words that draw attention to themselves - you change the nature of the national conversation.”
Expect impromptu pop-up poetry festivals in thousands of unexpected places, from shops, streets and offices to doctors’ waiting rooms and postal sorting offices. J K Rowling, Paul McCartney, Stephen Hawking, George RR Martin and Ellen DeGeneres are among the hundreds of thousands of poetry-lovers who last year shared poems they loved on National Poetry Day via Twitter. The hashtag #nationalpoetryday had a 522 million reach, trending across the globe on the day.
National Poetry Day is co-ordinated by the Forward Arts Foundation, a charity that celebrates poetry and promotes it as part of everyday life.
With Macmillan Children’s Books, it has nominated 14 poets as National Poetry Day Ambassadors, with special responsibility for igniting enthusiasm nationwide by visiting schools, organizing events and competitions and writing new work on the theme of Messages. Their new poems have been collected as a free downloadable eBook Messages: A National Poetry Day Book available from the National Poetry Day website, alongside posters, lesson plans and specially commissioned ‘Say it with a poem’ images from artist Sophie Herxheimer.
For further information, visit http://nationalpoetryday.co.uk
or join the conversation #NationalPoetryDay on:
Forward Arts Foundation www.forwardartsfoundation.org
Forward Arts Foundation (FAF) is the independent charity behind National Poetry Day and the Forward Prize. It is supported by Arts Council England.
Apples and Snakes www.applesandsnakes.org
England’s leading organisation for performance poetry and spoken word has a national reputation for producing exciting, engaging and transformative work in performance and participation.
The Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) believes that poetry is a fundamental element in the development of children’s literacy. It supports teachers with free teaching resources and run a shadowing scheme alongside its children’s poetry award, CLiPPA.
First Story www.firststory.org.uk
First Story brings talented, professional writers into secondary schools serving low-income communities to work with teachers and students to foster creativity and communication skills.
Literature Wales www.literaturewales.org
Literature Wales is the National Company for the development of literature in Wales. Its many projects and activities include Wales Book of the Year, an annual Literary Tourism programme, the National Poet of Wales and Young People's Laureate for Wales.
Poet in the City www.poetinthecity.co.uk
A leading UK poetry charity that programmes over 40 live poetry events a year, promotes poetry to new audiences and makes new connections for the art form.
Scottish Poetry Library www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk
The Scottish Poetry Library is a national resource and advocate for the art of poetry, with a special focus on Scottish poetry. It distributes 300,000 poem postcards around Scotland for National Poetry Day each year.
Southbank Centre www.southbankcentre.co.uk
The UK’s largest arts centre, occupying a 21-acre site that sits in the midst of London’s most vibrant cultural quarter on the South Bank of the Thames. It is the home of live literature in the UK, with a thriving year-round programme of readings, talks and events unrivalled by any other organisation in the capital.
The Poetry School www.poetryschool.com
The UK’s largest provider of poetry education, providing inspirational teaching and ways to share poems with other supportive poets
The Poetry Society www.poetrysociety.org.uk
Founded in 1909, the Poetry Society aims to advance the study, use and enjoyment of poetry, and publishes the leading poetry magazine, Poetry Review. The Society also runs the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award, Young Poets Network, the National Poetry Competition and the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.
NATIONAL POETRY DAY EDUCATION RESOURCES
National Poetry Day education resources, available online at www.nationalpoetryday.co.uk, includes free downloadable activity packs for libraries, teachers and parents, encouraging children to write, read and share poetry. The exercises relate to the National Poetry Day 2016 theme of messages, and have been prepared by a variety of organisations including Apples and Snakes, First Story, CLPE, Literature Wales and the Poetry School.