What is National Poetry Day?

National Poetry Day, the annual mass celebration of poetry and all things poetical, will mark its 21st birthday on Thursday 8 October 2015.

All are invited to join in, breaking with the tyranny of prose by thinking of a poem and sharing it imaginative ways, with the hashtags #nationalpoetryday and #thinkofapoem. What does it mean, to see the world as a poet does? The best responses to our Make Like A Poet digital challenge will be blazed across Blackpool Lights on National Poetry Day.

Expect the airwaves to be full of verse, while impromptu poetry festivals and read-a-thons will pop up in thousands of unexpected places, from shops, streets and offices to waiting rooms and train stations. In schools and libraries, members of Chatterbooks book clubs will plunge into poetry. This year’s National Poetry Day theme is Light: proprietors of power stations and lighthouses, opticians, photographers and firework-makers are among the professions participating. In Bristol the National Poetry Day ambassador, Liz Brownlee has even rounded up the city’s light workers – including an astronomer, a firefighter, a cosmologist, a fire-eater  and many more - to read poems about light for films to be displayed on the Big Screen in the city centre.

On BBC Radio 4, Andrew Marr, Dominic West and some of Britain’s most-loved poets and performers will mark the day by weaving poetry into the schedule from early morning until late at night. ‘We British: An Epic in Poetry’ will tell the story of Britain through its poetry, from the earliest verses ever written on the British Isles to some of the most recent.

National Poetry Day is co-ordinated by the Forward Arts Foundation, a charity that celebrates poetry and promotes it as part of everyday life.

With Macmillan Children’s Books, it has nominated eleven poets as National Poetry Day Ambassadors, with special responsibility for igniting enthusiasm nationwide.

The best of their freshly composed poems on the subject of light have been launched as an free eBook. Poems they judge unsatisfactory will be used to light fires. A poetry ambulance, staffed by the emergency poet, will be on stand-by.

Learn more about our plans and offers 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.



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.

When is National Poetry Day 2016?

The next National Poetry Day will be Thursday 6th October 2016.


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.

Looking for material from previous National Poetry Days? Click here.

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.

2014: Remember
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