National Poetry Day today (1st October) will feature a social media campaign in response to Margaret Atwood's new poem, a 24-hour poetry lock-in previewing Cerys Matthew's new album and guest appearances from poets Inua Ellams, Nikita Gill and Don Paterson.
This year's five-strong CLiPPA shortlist is also announced today, with two poetry collections from The Emma Press on the list.
In the roster of events to mark National Poetry Day, the BBC is inviting the public to write and upload their poems via the websites of its 40 local radio stations, inspired by a "Poem in 10 Minutes" masterclass from Kate Clanchy.
At 11am, Riddell will host a free draw-along event with Brian Bilston and Foyle Young Poet Khushi Daryani, accessible via Eventbrite. Following this, the 24 hour Poetry Lock-In a "non-stop day and night online celebration" will be hosted on Instagram Live by leading "BookTUber" Leena Norms. The event will feature Cerys Matthews previewing her new album, a music and poetry collaboration, and Paterson, Ellams and Gill, whose new titles feature on NPD's booklist.
At 5pm during the lock-in, Raymond Antrobus will highlight the poetry talent, nutured in schools by teachers across the world. Other initiatives include Poet Laureate Simon Armitage reading from Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, and awarding the inaugural Laurel Prize.
Susannah Herbert, executive director of the Forward Arts Foundation, the charity that has organised National Poetry Day each year since 1994, said: "This year has seen an unprecedented number of people discovering their inner poet during lockdown. Poetry offers an alternative to soundbites and statistics, a way of addressing what really matters, as individuals and as communities. A shared poem creates a space for true communication, with ourselves, our friends and family, and all those separated from us by distance or confinement.
"The interactive National Poetry Day map features hundreds of poetry celebrations across the UK, led by local libraries, schools and bookshops: care homes are connecting with school children via Gyles Brandreth’s #PoetryTogether2020 initiative and English Heritage has seized on poetry to celebrate untold stories in an unprecedented link between National Poetry Day and Black History Month. Our theme this year is Vision and our invitation to all is to 'See It Like A Poet' by finding the words to get us through a turbulent, uncertain time."
The NPD team, in partnership with Waterstones and Penguin Random House, is inviting the public to submit their own creative response to Atwood's poem "Dearly", which was released early to mark the occasion. The response could be a video performance of the poem, a picture, or a short self-written poem. "Poetry has always been central to my other forays into language," the author and poet said. "It opens doors for me into spaces that may later be found to contain stories." The winning submission will receive a signed copy of the new collection, and should be uploaded on social media using #AtwoodNPD.
Commenting on the importance of the event, poet Benjamin Zephaniah said: "National Poetry Day helps people discover poetry: it doesn’t just get them thinking about poetry, it gets them thinking about the world. If I want to know what a woman’s life is like, say, where can I go? I could listen to the government and I’d get a bland version of it, or I could look at some statistics, but if I want to know what they feel like when they get up in the morning, and what they feel like when they have children, or what they feel that when they go to the bathroom, poetry will tell me a lot more. I could say, without sounding too dramatic, that poetry saved my life."
Meanwhile CLiPPA, the £1,000 Centre for Literacy in Primary Education Children's Poetry Award, and the UK's only award for published poetry for children, announced its shortlist.
The Birmingham-based independent Emma Press has two books on the shortlist: a collection by the Spanish poet Karmelo C Iribarren, newly translated into English by Lawrence Schimel, Poems the Wind Blew In, illustrated by Riya Chowdhury.and an illustrated collection of LGBT themed poetry based on retellings of Scottish folk tales, LGBT Reimaginings of Scottish Folklore by Rachel Plummer, illustrated by Helene Boppert.
Also shortlisted are Cherry Moon, a collection of nature poems by Zaro Weil, illustrated by Junli Song (ZaZaKids Books/ Troika Books), and The Proper Way to Meet a Hedgehog and Other How-To Poems, published by Walker Books, an anthology of "how to' poems collected by poet Paul B Janeczko and illustrated by Richard Jones. The list is completed by Midnight Feasts: Tasty Poems, published by Bloomsbury, A F Harrold collects together poems ancient and modern, all on the theme of food, pairing Ian McMillan’s "Praise Poem for Yorkshire Puddings" with "Indian Cooking" by Moniza Alvi. The book is illustrated by Katy Riddell.
Louise Johns-Shepherd, c.e.o. at CLPE, said “In this challenging year, we are particularly delighted to be announcing the shortlist for the CLiPPA and to be doing it on National Poetry Day, when everyone is invited to celebrate and share poetry. Our judges have selected five poetry collections that, though very different, will each inspire and enthral young readers. We are excited to make the announcement and look forward to sharing the shortlist through our shadowing scheme.”
This year the judges are poets' Valerie Bloom and Steven Camden, winner of the CLiPPA 2019, alongside Tracey Guiry, director of the Poetry Archive and Charlotte Hacking, Central Learning Programmes Leader at CLPE (Centre for Literacy in Primary Education).
Due to a new partnership with the Times and the Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, the winner of the 2020 Award will be revealed at the culmination of the CLF schools’ programme, on Friday 9th October.