A time for poetry

<p>Poetry is the art of the rapper as well as the laureate, and this year&rsquo;s National Poetry Day celebrations provide perfect opportunities to celebrate poetry&rsquo;s diversity and appeal. But while we can celebrate the progress and interventions that have been seen in the general poetry market over recent years, we can no longer afford to ignore the dangerous decline of the children&rsquo;s poetry market.<br />
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There is a myth in the book trade that children&rsquo;s poetry doesn&rsquo;t sell. This has resulted in many publishers and booksellers pruning it from their lists, while recent evidence suggests that teachers are not comfortable with promoting poetry in the classroom either. With demand not stimulated by teachers&rsquo; promotion of children&rsquo;s poetry, and booksellers and publishers not creating a supply, the market is breaking down.<br />
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As with any market breakdown, confidence must be restored. National Poetry Day provides a focus for us to begin to do this and highlight the urgent need for action. Parents need to be confident that, in buying the latest Paul Cookson or Michael Rosen, they are purchasing something their children will love. Booksellers can help create more confident adult buyers, through promotion and information. As many people should know who has won the Centre for Literacy in Primary Education (CLPE) children&rsquo;s poetry prize as know the winner of the Carnegie Medal or Booker Prize. Children need to know that their favourite song lyric or limerick is as valid a form of poetry as Longfellow.<br />
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Increasingly, we are seeing signs of greater awareness of poetry, with events like National Poetry Day making a great impact. However, if we are able to engage children in poetry from a young age, we will add immeasurable value to the future of poetry in the UK. We need to focus on children, starting right now, in order to build the foundations for a thriving poetry market in years to come, restoring strength and confidence, reducing the need for intervention and building a sustainable market.</p>