National Poetry Day was founded by William Sieghart (whose occupation is listed on Wikipedia as philanthropist, entrepreneur and publisher) and co-ordinated by the Forward Arts Foundation, a charity he founded. He said, “There are millions of talented poets out there and it’s about time they got some recognition for their work… I want people to read poetry on the bus on their way to work, in the street, in school and in the pub.”
Since 1994, National Poetry Day has engaged millions of people with poetry through a range of live events and web-based activities. It is usually on the first or second Thursday in October and Thursday 8 October 2015 will mark its 21st birthday. Each year, the day is given a new theme, and this year the theme is Light. Proprietors of power stations and lighthouses, opticians, photographers and firework-makers are among the professions pledged to participate by displaying poems.
The Poetry Society celebrates the day with exciting events and initiatives including ‘National Poetry Day Live’ at the Southbank Centre, London, where a team of Young Producers aged 18–25 will curate a day of illuminating poetry readings, workshops and installations. There will also be an afternoon of free readings at the Royal Festival Hall, London featuring performances from some of the UK’s biggest and newest talents in poetry and the spoken word, including Karen McCarthy Woolf, Michael Symmons Roberts, Rachel Rooney, and John Hegley. There are also ten poets nominated as National Poetry Day Ambassadors, with special responsibility for igniting enthusiasm nationwide.
The airwaves will also be full of verse, while impromptu poetry festivals and read-a-thons will pop up in thousands of unexpected places. 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.
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See below for a sneaky peek as to what’s coming up throughout the rest of 2015.