June 3, 2016
National Poetry Day, the annual mass celebration of poetry and all things poetical, marked its 21st birthday on Thursday 8 October 2015. Co-commissioned by Thirteen Ways and The Space in partnership with Forward Arts Foundation and the BBC, a collection of stunning films featuring Sean Bean, Samantha Morton and Professor Stephen Hawking reading poems by Dylan Thomas, Hafez and Sarah Howe. What does it mean, to see the world as a poet does? The best responses to our Make Like A Poet digital challenge were blazed across Blackpool Lights on the day.
You can still download our free National Poetry Day anthology of Light Poems here, and check out the specially commissioned ‘Light‘ poems from the five Forward Prizes poets shortlisted for the First Collection Prize. The National Poetry Day Partners collaborated to create these fantastic free educational resources for primary and secondary schools. Every year, all are invited to join in, breaking with the tyranny of prose by thinking of a poem and sharing it imaginative ways, with the hashtags #nationalpoetryday and #thinkofapoem.
The airwaves were full of verse, while poetry-spouting flash-mobs and impromptu poetry festivals popped up in unexpected places, from train carriages to shops, streets, offices and waiting rooms. In schools and libraries, members of Chatterbooks book clubs plunged into poetry, while thousands of students marked the day with a Readathon. Using the theme, proprietors of lighting shops and lighthouses, opticians and photographers are among the professions participating. In Bristol, one of the National Poetry Day ambassadors, the poet Liz Brownlee even rounded up the city’s light workers – including an astronomer, a firefighter, a cosmologist, a fire-eater and many more – to read poems about light for films to be displayed on the Big Screen in the city centre. Dr John Cooper Clarke wrote the ‘Nation’s Ode to the Coast’, filmed beautifully by the National Trust.
On BBC Radio 4, Andrew Marr, Dominic West and some of Britain’s most-loved poets and performers marked the day by weaving poetry into the schedule from early morning until late at night. There was poetry for breakfast with Helen Mort, courtesy of Poet in the City. The Poetry Postie went on her morning rounds. The airwaves were poetry-filled on 6 Music and Radio 3 too. On Channel 4 the continuity was kept by poets. There was Poetry in the Piazza, the now traditional open mic in the middle of Covent Garden. The Scottish Poetry Library unveiled their Big Words on the Royal Mile, ‘Spiral’ by Elizabeth Burns was a huge poem that day. There was Night poetry and music. There was late night poetry, and jazz.