What is National Poetry Day?

National Poetry Day, remember? Remember!

The next National Poetry Day is Thursday October 2, 2014 and this year’s theme is Remember – a word that resonates, whether whispered low or shouted from the roof-tops. An invitation, a threat, an incantation, a question, a prayer, a lament, a cry of glee. The choice is yours. Looking for inspiration? Try these for size.

I remember, I remember

Do you remember an inn, Miranda?

Remember me when I am gone away

Remember, remember the fifth of November

We will be posting more phrases and poetry linked to the theme in the days, weeks and months to come. If you have any suggestions – and of course you will…- then put them up on Twitter, with the hashtag #nationalpoetryday – or share them on our Facebook page.  What poetry do you remember – or wish you could remember? Our partners at Poetry By Heart have some fabulous suggestions.

National Poetry Day is a nationwide celebration of poetry held every year on the first Thursday of October: it shakes poetry from its dust-jacket and into the nations’ streets, offices, shops, playgrounds, train stations and  airwaves.

Here’s a little of what happened last year, when the theme was Water.

Fern Hill by Dylan Thomas, as read by the Prince of Wales (with the faintest of Welsh lilts) especially for National Poetry Day, set National Poetry Day 2013 off. And we commissioned a gorgeous 30 second animation: show it, share it, pass it on.

Carol Ann Duffy, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Sean O’Brien, Pam 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. The day was a chance for people to use poetry to say things that can’t be said in prose. It was your celebration, although we suggested a theme “water, water, everywhere”  to kickstart activities and inspiration. We assembled poems, films, lesson plans, activities  and posters here to help you celebrate with us and each other: please let us know what worked best and what didn’t. And excuse us if we don’t reply immediately…

Please use this website to see what was and is happening around the country, poetry-wise.


All about National Poetry Day

Since National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by William Sieghart, it has engaged millions of people across the country with live events, happenings, classroom activities, conversations, broadcasts, semi-comprehensible tweets and spontaneous uncontrollable outbursts of poetry.

From 1999 onwards, National Poetry Day has been loosely “themed”: the theme is not prescriptive but it serves to kick start inspiration. In 2013, the theme was “water, water everywhere” in homage to one of the nation’s best-known (and most-frequently misquoted) lines of poetry.

Our partners at The Poetry Society have a great page with more detail here. Meanwhile, here’s a list of themes.

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