Make like a poet,” urge the organisers of National Poetry Day, the “annual mass celebration of poetry and all things poetical” which will sweep the country tomorrow. Specifically, they’re suggesting that we live, speak, love, think, dream and act like poets. But beyond this, what actually happens on National Poetry Day?
On Thursday 8 October – the festival’s 21st anniversary – Britain is encouraged to “break the tyranny of prose for 24 hours by sharing poetry in every conceivable way.” To this end, the National Poetry Day website is providing downloadable screensavers, ebooks and posters, as well as free downloads of poetry (including verses by Dylan Thomas, Hafez and Sarah Howe) being read aloud by Stephen Hawking, Sean Bean and Samantha Morton and accompanied by new films and digital art from Laure Provost, Bridget Smith and Kathleen Herbert.
Dedicated hashtags (#nationalpoetryday and #thinkofapoem) have been established to galvanise the country into poetic creativity; the best offerings will appear in a display on the Blackpool Illuminations, curated by graphic artist Anthony Burrill.
On BBC Radio 4, Andrew Marr – with the help of Michael Rosen, Dominic West and others – will be “weaving poetry into the schedule” by interspersing the day’s usual programming with We British: An Epic in Poetry. Launching Contains Strong Language, the BBC’s new poetry season, Marr will present a series of readings, interviews and archival material exploring the ways in which poetry from British history, from Chaucer to Larkin, can illuminate the concerns of contemporary life.