Let's make a big splash on National Poetry Day
A poetry breakfast, a poetry relay, a poetry marathon and poets performing in tube stations are among the huge number of events taking place in London, Edinburgh, Grasmere, Havant, Grimsby, Chorlton, Lancaster, Bedford, Lampeter, Bury, Birkenhead, and many, many other villages, town and cities to mark National Poetry Day today, Thursday 3 October. And with heavy rain threatening to envelop much of the country on the day, the question was: when the National Poetry Day organisers chose their theme of "water, water everywhere", how did they know?
At the Bloomsbury hotel in London award-winning poet Julia Copus will be starting early with a poetry breakfast reading at 8am. Elsewhere in London poetry fans are invited to mark National Poetry Day with Art Macabre, sketching nude and costumed models striking poses inspired by poems, while listening to readings from poetry by Poe, Plath and Baudelaire and others, at the same time.
At Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in Grasmere there’s a poetry marathon, with more than 100 poems being read over four hours. They’re reading poems of the sea at Lancaster Maritime Museum, while a poetry relay kicks off in Grimsby, with 72 volunteers reciting lines from The Rime on the Ancient Mariner at different locations across north-east Lincolnshire.
Cinema Arts Network presents Evidently… John Cooper Clarke LIVE from Newcastle’s Tyneside Cinema, followed by a one-off interview with the Bard of Salford live-streamed to 14 venues across the UK.
All this week in London there are poets in residence at a number of tube stations, writing topical verses on station whiteboards and performing in the busking spots.
The big, free event takes place at London’s Southbank in the Festival Hall’s Clore Ballroom with readings, compered by John Hegley and Joelle Taylor, from poets including Simon Armitage, Patience Agbabi, Hannah Lowe, David Morley and John Wedgwood Clarke.
Several new Poetry Society commissions will also premiere at National Poetry Day Live: a film-poem by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski explores water's most transient states, while poets including Liz Berry and Ian McMillan have travelled the nation's canal network with film-maker Alastair Cook. The day will end with a special reading of sea poems by Simon Armitage and friends, relayed to the Clore Ballroom from A Room for London, the boat on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, at 7pm.
Even London’s mayor, Boris Johnson, has joined in the fun, reading from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, to mark National Poetry Day’s “water, water everywhere” theme. You can hear it here.