June 1, 2016
The 2016 theme for National Poetry Day was “messages” and in preparation we produced resources for primary schools and secondary schools looking at everything from love letters between inanimate objects, to the Loch Ness monster’s song. With the help of Macmillan Children’s Books and our poetry ambassadors we put together an eBook collecting some fabulous poems exploring our messages theme.
From the moment the day itself 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, PJ Harvey and Chris Riddell – all championed the art of saying it with a poem. Poet, short-story writer, bookseller and vlogger Jen Campbell produced a short film, offering tips on how to share poems on National Poetry Day.
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.
BBC Local Poets
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 the BBC local radio website.
Channel 4 Ident Takeover
Poets also took over the television as guest continuity announcers took over Channel 4’s on-air continuity as the broadcaster celebrated National Poetry Day 2016. Watch some of the clips featuring both established poets and young writers.
Felix Dennis Prize new commissions
Forward Arts Foundation asked the poets shortlisted for the Felix Dennis Prize for Best First Collection to create a new poem on the theme of ‘messages’ to celebrate National Poetry Day 2016. Not only did the poets respond with written poems, they sent us audio recordings, films and a digital text generating engine! See some of the resulting poems and films.