What is National Poetry Day?

National Poetry Day, remember? Remember! Thursday 2 October

National Poetry Day is the nation’s biggest celebration of poetry.  Everyone seems to be joining in, releasing poetry into the streets, squares, supermarkets, parks, train stations, bus-stops and post-boxes. We know of poetry police, poetry funeral directors, poetry ambulances. Add yourselves to the ever-growing list by tying verse on trees, to make a poet-tree. (They do in Japan.) Or stick it in your window for the world to see. This year’s theme is Remember, so if you remember a poem, however short, pass it on with hashtag #thinkofapoem

Poetry is the one art form you can keep in your head, and this year Cambridge University is launching a massive Poetry and Memory survey on National Poetry Day to discover what poems the nation remembers.  Poetry is sticky and stays with you: surprise us with what you know.

Look round this site for live events, happenings, classroom activities and spontaneous uncontrollable outbursts of poetry –  or set up your own and tell us about it here. Teachers and students can join in by using our free activity/lesson plans and cool posters and share the fun via Twitter #nationalpoetryday

Here’s a set of eight new poems for primary school children by five leading contemporary children’s poets.

To keep in touch by Liz Brownlee
Remembering by Liz Brownlee
The Family Book by Brian Moses
Poets are Photographers by Paul Cookson
Remembering is our duty by Paul Cookson
Dear Mug by Roger Stevens
In an old dog’s memory by Brian Moses
Whole body memory by Jan Dean

And some favourite classic poems on this year’s theme of Remember.  Use the Remember tag on our poetry page for more.

I remember, I remember by Thomas Hood
Do you remember an inn, Miranda? by Hilaire Belloc
Remember me when I am gone away by Christina Rossetti
Remember, remember the fifth of November Anon

Learn more about the special events planned by signing up to our mailing list. In the meantime there are lots of opportunities to join in – we list events of all shapes and sizes in the what’s on section. See Submit an Event for information on how to host and promote your own event.

Countdown with us!


Who can put on an event?
Anyone. We welcome events of all shapes and sizes, whether from individuals, groups or organisations.  And if you are using our logo, take pictures and tweet them with the hashtag #nationalpoetryday

What does it cost?
It’s FREE. Just register your event below to be listed on the ‘what’s on’ page.
You are welcome to charge for your event.

How do I register?
Just fill out the form here with details of where, when, what and who.


All about National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart, and has engaged millions of people across the country reading, writing and listening to poetry.

From 1999 onwards, National Poetry Day has been loosely themed: the theme is not prescriptive but it serves to kick start inspiration. Our partners at The Poetry Society have a great page with more detail here.

2013: Water, water everywhere
2012: Stars
2011: Games
2010: Home
2009: Heroes and Heroines
2008: Work
2007: Dreams
2006: Identity
2005: The Future
2004: Food
2003: Britain
2002: Celebration
2001: Journeys
2000: Fresh Voices
1999: Song Lyrics


What Happened in 2013

Here’s a little of what happened in 2013, when the theme was Water:

We had Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas, read by the Prince of Wales (with the faintest of Welsh lilts). We commissioned a gorgeous 30 second animation. We had Carol Ann Duffy, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sean O’BrienPam Ayres, Alice Oswald, Felix Dennis, Jo Shapcott, E J Thribb, Lemn Sissay, Simon Armitage, the Vogons, George the Poet…. We relished the Grimsby fishermen speaking the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, performance poets posted throughout the London underground, Jordan from Rizzle Kicks showing off his tattoo of Kipling’s If alongside Mr Gee at Wembley and the 24 hour incarceration of four Welsh poets, with pen, paper, coffee and orders to create 100 new poems. John Cooper Clarke, the original iconoclastic punk poet, was live-streamed  from Newcastle to 14 venues throughout the land – from Dundee to Southampton. A new Young Poet Laureate for London was announced at the House of Commons.  We assembled poems, films, lesson plans, activities  and posters here to help you celebrate with us and each other.