What is National Poetry Day?

National Poetry Day, the annual mass celebration of poetry and all things poetical, marked its 21st birthday  on Thursday 8 October 2015. You can still download our free National Poetry Day anthology of Light Poems here, and check out the poems and poets involved here.

Every year, 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 were blazed across Blackpool Lights on the day.

The airwaves were full of verse, while poetry-spouting flash-mobs and impromptu poetry festivals popped up in unexpected places, from train carriages to shops, streets, offices and waiting rooms. In schools and libraries, members of Chatterbooks book clubs plunged into poetry, while thousands of students marked the day with a Readathon. This year’s National Poetry Day theme was Light: proprietors of lighting shops and lighthouses, opticians and photographers are among the professions participating. In Bristol, one of the National Poetry Day ambassadors, the poet Liz Brownlee 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 marked the day by weaving poetry into the schedule from early morning until late at night. ‘We British: An Epic in Poetry’ told 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, publisher of Light: a National Poetry Day book – free to download here –  it nominated twelve poets as National Poetry Day Ambassadors, with special responsibility for igniting enthusiasm nationwide. Fortunately their numbers include the emergency poet, who is always on stand-by with her poetry ambulance.

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.

What is the theme of National Poetry Day 2016? 
The theme for National Poetry Day 2016 will be Messages.


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.

2015: Light
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