National Poetry Day 2019
Every year in October, people the length and breadth of the UK come together to celebrate the power of poetry. This year heralds the 25th Anniversary of National Poetry Day and falls on October 3rd with the theme of Truth.
In a world in which fake news abounds, what could be more refreshing than speaking our truths through the potency of poetry? The yearly themes aim to kickstart inspiration rather than being prescriptive in any way, so here are some ideas for celebrating your own very personal #nationalpoetryday and feasting on the delight and satisfaction of this ancient art form.
Events are taking place all over the UK, so to see what is going on in your area and take part, click here. These events range from readings to open mics to popups to workshops to poetry trails, slams and even poetry karaoke. The venues are as wide ranging as the events themselves, taking place on buses and trains, in tube stations and in offices, and of course in schools, libraries and bookshops. If there is nothing happening near you, why not ask your child’s teacher at school if a small event can be held or if your child and their classmates can write or choose a poem to read that they feel fits in with the theme?
If you’ve always liked the idea of reading a little more poetry, but you’re not sure where to start, a list entitled ‘Poetry Booksellers Love’ may be the perfect solution for you. 25 books have been nominated by the Booksellers Association and Forward Arts Foundation from the past 25 years to help celebrate National Poetry Day’s important anniversary. The resulting list is a varied and uplifting collection encompassing poetry for adults and children alike.
Ranging from Robert Macfarlane’s ‘The Lost Words’, a spell book to help children re-conjure words from the natural world that have been removed from the Oxford Children’s Dictionary, to Kate Tempest’s ‘Hold Your Own’ in which she takes a provocative look at contemporary life, to A Poem For Every Night of the Year, edited by Allie Esiri and encompassing a whole gamut of classic and contemporary poems for young people, there is something for everyone in this list.
There are countless resources out there to help inspire young people to engage with National Poetry Day (click here to start looking). Children between the ages of six and thirteen are also invited to write a poem on the theme of truth, or even it’s opposite – lies! For example, what’s the truth about your Gran? Or your dog? Or what was the last really big lie you told or that somebody told you? It’s time to spill the beans!
The poems can be shared on social media using the hashtag #MyNPDPoem. The National Poetry Day website is filled with inspirational ideas, activities and resources sure to fire the imagination of any child. The ‘Truth Films’ include fantastic poets such as Michael Rosen and Karl Nova performing some of their own poems on the theme of Truth and discussing some of the ideas behind their work.
Children can often be intimidated by poetry, believing that it is too difficult to write or it’s simply ‘not their thing.’ But the magic of poetry lies in the fact that it is a levelling voice of democracy and that the rulebook can be thrown firmly out of the window.
If still in doubt about poems being too inaccessible or highbrow, read this poem to your child by James Carter, wonderfully entitled The ReallyReallyReally TrulyTrueTruth About…Teddy Bears.
Everybody has a teddy.
Even if they say they don’t, they do,
they’re fibbing. Even kings, queens,
famous footballers, hairy rock stars
and busy teachers. Yours included.
And all those people on the telly. Them too.
And I’m sure even aliens have their own
equally cute, equally cuddly, equally
dog-eared, squished and dribbled-over
version of this classic soft toy. But why?
Well, why not? However old you are,
however grown up you may appear to be,
however important or bossy you may become,
in a hush of a moment every now and then,
you will still feel the need to open
the bedroom cupboard, remove
that little fuzzy bundle, and give it
a sniff and a kiss and a little snuggle.
Through its playful manipulation of language and form, poetry has the ability to tap into truths that matter, on a personal, societal and wider level. According to the organisers of National Poetry Day, ‘We value poetry’s power to change perceptions, renew communities and enable people to find the words they need.’ And the right words are needed more than ever before, to help heal divisions that rage across our societies. They can also encapsulate, at their heart, great beauty, meaning and purpose.