National Poetry Day will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a mass participation campaign highlighting poetry’s power to forge community - whether intimate or on the grand scale - by celebrating words that touch on truth.
The campaign - which culminates on Thursday 3rd October with thousands of poetry events across the UK - is themed around ‘truth’. The campaign will showcase poetry’s value in capturing those nuanced human truths that polls, statistics and big data ignore.
Organisers said after an exceptional year of national engagement in 2018, in which National Poetry Day inspired more than 1.5 million live encounters with poetry, with over 500,000 children and young people participating in NPD activities, Forward Arts Foundation - the charity responsible - will ensure that the 25th anniversary of the national campaign for poetry offers opportunities to join in at every level.
Forward Arts Foundation’s Andrea Reece, manager of National Poetry Day, said: “It is thrilling to watch poetry moving centre stage, though not surprising. When things are confusing or uncertain, we turn to poetry as a way to comfort, to express doubt, to give form to ambiguity. This means poetry is a form of language that brings people together: when you encounter a poem that touches you it’s like making a new friend.
“National Poetry Day is unique in reaching so many, connecting poetry fans of all ages and tastes, and reminding all of the poems that continue to shape their lives, whether anthems and lyrics or lines shared on social media. The sector is full of brilliant people, poets, publishers and organisations who ensure poems are enjoyed, discovered and shared all year round: they’re the ones who deserve the credit when poetry takes off. We are looking forward to another year of collaboration, connections and celebration.”
National Poetry Day will supply downloadable certificates for children who read, write or perform poems in their schools; competitions for all ages; posters, booklists and bookmarks for participating retailers and libraries, and a treasure trove of poems chosen for their resonance and truth by a range of high profile poetry-lovers - from Mark Gatiss to Michael Morpurgo. A companion National Poetry Day anthology - in print form - will be curated by broadcaster Cerys Matthews.
Poetry is enjoying a huge boom, both in sales and audience numbers, according to an Active Lives Survey. In 2017 alone, 2m people - 3.8 % of the population of England - told the Taking Part Survey that they had written a poem in the past 12 months: that is 500,000 more than participated in the game of cricket over the same period.
In figures collated for the Forward Arts Foundation, Nielsen BookScan recently announced that poetry sales have increased by almost 50% in five years, reaching an all-time high of £12.3 million in 2018. Analysis of the poetry-book buying audience showed that two thirds of poetry book buyers are under the age of 34.
This year’s highlights include the Inpress & National Poetry Day Summit at London Book Fair, a new BBC Local Poets campaign, a new National Poetry Day anthology of poems, the appointment of Karl Nova and James Carter as poetry ambassadors and new resources for schools and libraries alongside a new trade campaign to ensure increased shelf space and a higher profile for poetry in bookshops and growing sales as a result.
The Teach Company has also joined as an education media partner for 2019.