National Poetry Day, the UK’s annual celebration of all things poetical, takes place today this year, on Thursday October 8th. And traditional and social media alike, plus websites, libraries, town squares, billboards, and even construction scaffolding, are filling up with commemorations and events in honor of poetry and poets past and present.
“National Poetry Day is co-ordinated by the Forward Arts Foundation, a charity that celebrates poetry and promotes it as part of everyday life,” as the Forward Arts Foundation website explains. “National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart, and has engaged millions of people across the country reading, writing and listening to poetry.” And as one of its contributions to the day, Forward has collaborated with Macmillan Children’s Books in producing LIGHT – A National Poetry Day Anthology, available for free download in PDF format with 33 pages of verse from its 12 National Poetry Day ambassadors. Other free resources at the Forward site include lesson plans and teaching materials, and free posters.
The Forward Arts Foundation certainly wasn’t the only one in on the act, though. The Scottish Poetry Library has shared its own series of materials, inspirational ideas, and news of events and celebrations. The National Library of Scotland is leading a series of library readings, school projects, and other special occasions across Scotland. And Edinburgh’s Royal Mile has been filled by the Big Words Project, scaffolding-borne verse which could be the UK’s biggest written poem. Further south, Southbank Centre and The Poetry Society have joined together to celebrate with live readings at the Royal Festival Hall throughout the day.
Twitter is filling up with poetic tweets under the #nationalpoetryday hashtag. Penguin Books UK has declared “we’ll be celebrating with poems.” The BBC has announced its major season on poetry, Contains Strong Language. Poets, publishers, and publications are sending out messages, poetic and otherwise, with even the National Trust and English Heritage getting involved.
There’s plenty more likely to unfold before day end, so if you’re in the UK, follow the hashtag, go online, track down your closest event, or simply open a book of verse. Never been a better time to wax poetic.