National Poetry Day is coming up; this year it will take place on Thursday 3rd October. Although the themed day is designed to bring poetry to EVERYONE – including greengrocers and bus-queues, according to the National Poetry Day website – it is probably safe to say that it is a whole lot easier to celebrate National Poetry Day if you’re sitting in a classroom or school hall, with a member of the English Department making it easier to participate in than avoid. How, though, can one best celebrate it outside of this environment – and is it worth the bother?
Well, celebrating National Poetry Day is easy – just start with a quick look at the aforementioned website – www. Nationalpoetryday.co.uk. You ‘ll find a list of poems which link to this year’s theme of water. There’s a list of events on there, too, for you to get involved in – although they’re mostly in Birmingham or London, unfortunately for those living anywhere else.
However, having a whole day dedicated to poetry demands that we do more than just read a few poems. It seems rather a waste of a whole dedicated day – even if reading poetry is actually something that you’d quite enjoy. Instead, think bigger. Become an editor for the day, by making an anthology of your favourite poems: print them out, illustrate them and bind them together in some way. Or you could engage with the water theme – you could record the sound of water flowing (or a toilet flushing, perhaps), and then try to put those sounds into words. Or why not take inspiration from Lemn Sissay and produce a Landmark Poem (a quick internet search will point you in the right direction).
But why should we bother with National Poetry Day? Well, the main aim of the day is to encourage ENJOYMENT – something that, when we think about poetry, we often forget. The joy and pleasure we got as children, from sounding out words and reading rhyming picture books, is often blotted out by the tedious analysis of the set texts we study at school. National Poetry Day is a day to forget about the ‘rules’ of poetry – and celebrate the many sounds, shapes and rhythms that poetry can bring. Poetry is about having fun with language, and playing with it – and having a day dedicated to fun and play is surely something that we can all enjoy.