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.

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.

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.

This year’s National Poetry Day theme is Light: proprietors of power stations and lighthouses, opticians, photographers and firework-makers are among the professions pledged to participate by displaying poems.

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 seven leading children’s 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 will be launched into the air over the nation by balloon, rocket and paper plane. Poems they judge unsatisfactory will be used to light fires. A poetry ambulance, staffed by an emergency poet, will be on stand-by.

We invite you to start planning your participation now – and let us know via our Events page. Here are a few highlights of last year’s celebrations: we hope you draw inspiration and entertainment from them.

Alan Bennet reading Larkin on the Today programme. Michael Sheen and Aardman creating a short animation of Dylan Thomas poem. Thousands of participants sharing their favourite lines of poetry online in the  #thinkofapoem challenge. Poetry ambulances. Poetry police. Poetry fire-brigades. Poetry tube-stations. Poetry supermarkets, parks, bus-stops and post-boxes.

Poetry is the one art form you can keep in your head, and last year Cambridge University launched 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.

Teachers and students can keep the NPD spirit alive all year by using our free activity/lesson plans and cool posters and sharing the fun via Twitter #thinkofapoem

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 last 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 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?

The next National Poetry Day will be Thursday 8th October 2015.


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