2017 – Freedom

October 1, 2015

National Poetry Day 2017 saw the launch of a major new four-day festival (Contains Strong Language) devoted to spoken word in Hull, 2017 UK City of Culture, a partnership with the BBC, Hull UK City of Culture and Humber Mouth and other poetry organisations.  There were hundreds of events across the UK and Ireland in celebration with the nation being invited to ‘share a poem’ on Thursday 28 September, 2017.

For a second year running National Poetry Day partnered with BBC Local Radio. Taking their cue from National Poetry Day’s 2017 theme – Freedom – BBC Local Radio across England called on listeners to ‘Free the word’: nominating a truly distinctive local word that deserves to be better known nationally.  These 12 chosen words were then offered to a local poet as the creative spark for a new poem, broadcast on the BBC on National Poetry Day, 28th September with Hull 17 poet Isiah Hull composing and performing an overarching poem using the 12 selected local words at the Contains Strong Language festival in Hull.

National Poetry Day also announced its first ever dedicated book trade promotion highlighting 40 inspiring poetry books in four wide-ranging categories: anthologies, children’s poetry, current collections and poetry for book groups. The campaign’s aim – to enable all to enjoy, discover and share poetry – was supported by 19 publishers, from Penguin Random House, Bloomsbury and Macmillan to tiny independents like Penned in the Margins and Burning Eye.

Visit England focussed its ‘Literary Heroes’ campaign on poets and poetry in September, commissioning poets Andrew McMillan and Remi Graves to rework much-loved classics for the 21st century. Andrew transplanted Wordsworth’s Daffodils to urban Manchester and Remi used Blake’s London to explore Kings Cross. Films of their new poems were released on National Poetry Day.

On board staff of Virgin Trains included poetry in their announcements on the day; and Royal Mail postmarked millions of items of mail nationwide with National Poetry Day 28 September: an honour reserved only for special occasions and significant events.

Glasgow marked the day with pop-up poetry events across the city; in Yorkshire, the number 59 bus route from Wakefield to Barnsley was taken over by poets and musicians, while Bradford, Unesco City of Film, featured poems on its Big Screen. St Pancras Station, the Old Vic Theatre, Soho’s L’Escargot restaurant are just three of many London venues who put poetry before the public in surprising and delightful ways.

National Poetry Day ambassador and artist Sophie Herxheimer created illustrations for a set of resources: posters, stickers, badges, bookmarks and DIY templates. These were sent into schools, libraries and bookshops across the UK to add even more colour to the celebrations.