About National Poetry Day

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National Poetry Day, the annual mass celebration of poetry and all things poetical, took place on Thursday 6 October 2016. It’s not actually over: poetry is for life, not just 24 hours, and the poems that surfaced on the Day will be around for many many months to come.  Enjoy, discover and share them: the theme of “Messages” is featured in wonderful activity sheets and anthologies you will find elsewhere on this site.

From the moment National Poetry Day 2016 kicked off – with a reading of a Seamus Heaney sonnet by HRH the Prince of Wales, broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme – we noted a surge in enthusiasm for poetry in all conceivable contexts. Railway stations gave away tickets printed with poems, the Royal Mail created a special poetry postmark for its parcels and letters, while artists, musicians and actors – from Ricky Gervais to Joanna Lumley, P J Harvey and Chris Riddell –  all championed the art of saying it with a poem.

Random acts of poetry committed by undercover poets include the decoration of shop windows, the guerilla sharing of poems on public transport, the sending of poetry via carrier pigeons, paper boats and even balloons. In an unprecedented lyrical mapping of the English landscape, BBC Local Radio commissioned forty poets to adopt the voice of a local landmark and each create a new poem: the results included celebrations of pot-holed highways, hard-ware shops and even the humble Lincolnshire Sausage alongside mighty cathedrals, mountains and lighthouses. The whole astonishing anthology – filmed as well as recorded – can be seen on BBC iPlayer National Poetry Day.

National Poetry Day is an initiative of the Forward Arts Foundation, a charity that celebrates excellence in poetry and widens its audience. We bring together leading poetry, literacy and literary organisations around a shared purpose: promoting the enjoyment, discovery and sharing of poetry.  Learn more about our plans and offers by signing up to our mailing list.


When is National Poetry Day 2017?

Thursday 28 September 2017 – a little earlier than usual, because we are working closely with the BBC and Hull City of Culture on a celebration that will ensure still more are involved closely in enjoying, discovering and sharing poetry, all year round.

What is the theme of National Poetry Day 2017?
The theme for National Poetry Day 2017 will be Freedom.

Who can put on an event?
Anyone. We welcome events of all shapes and sizes, whether from individuals, groups or organisations. If you used our downloaded logos or posters, take pictures and put them on social media with the hashtag #nationalpoetryday.

What does it cost?
It’s FREE. We invited all to list any public event  on the map on our Join In page. You are welcome to charge for your event. We ran a schools competition and gave away lots of goody bags: we will do this again in 2017 so sign up now to be sure of being included.

How do I list an event?
Don’t do it just now. But, nearer the time, scroll down to click on the map on the Join In page.


Our history

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. From 1999 onwards, National Poetry Day has been loosely themed: the theme is not prescriptive but it kick starts inspiration. Our partners at The Poetry Society have a great page with more detail here.