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Poetry is a unique type of literature that uses words in a variety of ways that mean to invoke a range of emotional responses, imaginative awareness or experience. Words may be chosen and arranged in certain ways that focus on meaning or story as well as rhythm and sound. 

Often set aside in lieu of more practical ways of communicating, National Poetry Day is here to bring attention to this form of literature and encourage humans all over the world to engage in poetry more readily and intentionally.

History of National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day got its start in the UK in 1994 when it was founded by William Sieghart. The purpose of the day was to promote the beauty that this type of art form brings to life, including through the display of public poetry readings.

Coordinated by the UK charitable organization, the Forward Arts Foundation, this event works to celebrate excellence and increase the audience for poetry through a variety of activities. Other organizations in the UK also collaborate in putting on National Poetry Day, including The Scottish Poetry Library, The Poetry Book Society, Arts Council England, Literature Wales and a variety of others.

Each year, National Poetry Day has been given a theme that offers poets and other participants a guideline around which to consider their creative works. Topics can range through all different aspects of life and inspiration, including past themes such as these:

  • The Environment (2022)
  • Water, Water Everywhere (2013)
  • Heroes and Heroines (2009)
  • The Future (2005)

National Poetry Day offers a wide range of activities and events, whether formal or informal, to get involved with and celebrate in honor of the day!

How to Celebrate National Poetry Day

With the hope of getting everyone to make, experience and share their poetry, this day offers a wide array of ways to get involved. Come up with some creative ideas on your own, or get started by making plans to participate in the National Poetry Day with some of these ideas:

Read Some Poetry

National Poetry Day offers a delightful chance to set aside some time to simply read some poetry. If a poetry book has been collecting dust on the nightstand or bookshelf, this is the ideal time to pick it up and begin reading. Or, for those who don’t have any poetry books in their own personal collection, head on over to the local public library and check out some poetry books by classic authors or modern poets. The great thing about poetry is that, unless it is an epic poem like the Iliad or Paradise Lost, they are often able to be read slowly and in one sitting!

Attend or Host a Poetry Reading

In celebration of National Poetry Day, especially in cities and towns throughout the UK, different public readings may be scheduled in celebration of the day. Those who don’t have access to a local public poetry reading could certainly start one! Local libraries, community spaces, theaters and pubs are all places that are often happy to make space for important cultural events such as a poetry reading. This could include inviting a local poetry author to do some readings of their published poems, or staging an open mic so anyone can sign up for slots and share what they have on their hearts in the form of poetry.

Learn Facts About Famous Poets

One fun way to celebrate National Poetry, especially for teachers or parents, might be to learn a bit about some different famous poets throughout history who have contributed to this form of literature. Check out and share some of these fun facts about poets to get started:

  • Charles Bukowski was a big fan of cats; he owned a pet one called Minx and even wrote a poem called, “My Cats.”

  • The last word Elizabeth Barrett Browning ever spoke was the word “beautiful.”

  • Poet Gwendolyn Brooks became the first black writer to win a Pulitzer Prize, and her work had a profound influence on modern rapper Kanye West, who met her once while he was in grade school.

  • Shel Siverstein was not only the poet who wrote Where the Sidewalk Ends, but he also was an award-winning songwriter who won a Grammy for a country song that Johnny Cash performed.

Write Some Poetry

While some folks might say that they are not a writer or a poet, that’s simply not true. Anyone who can put words together in any way they choose can be a poet – even if they never share their work with anyone. This might mean a person plans to write a great sonnet in the model of Shakespeare, or they may choose to reveal their poem to an audience in the form of a ‘spoken word’.

Those who aren’t sure about where to begin writing poetry might try something with a less intimidating structure, like the traditional Japanese version of haiku poetry. Just write three lines, with five syllables in the first and third lines and seven syllables in the second line. This type of poem can be written about a beautiful bird visiting the backyard or about a peanut butter sandwich. It doesn’t really matter the topic as long as it evokes some feeling!

Check out this haiku poem for a bit of inspiration:

Poems can be fun
National Poetry Day
Brings many good things
 

Celebrate Poetry Throughout the Year

Certainly National Poetry is an important day of the year, but there are few other opportunities to keep that love for poetry going all year long. Check out various other important times in the life of this form of literature, including World Poetry Day which is celebrated in March, as well as National Poetry Month and Poetry and the Creative Mind Day both of which occur in April.    

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