The 2021 trade campaign to mark National Poetry Day (NPD) on 7th October is spotlighting 43 new poetry books from 26 different publishers, in a year that sees more recommendations from indie presses than ever before.
Ramanujan by Amit Chaudhuri (Shearsman Books), We Are Always & Forever Ending by Adrian B Earle (Broken Sheep Books) and A Ligature for Black Bodies by Denise Miller (Eyewear Publishing) are among titles celebrated in the adult category, while 100 Poems to Save the Earth, an anthology edited by Zoe Brigley and Kristian Evans (Seren Books), is recommended as an example of "exhibiting the power of poetry to protest and inspire".
Highlighted books also include The Craft of Poetry: A Primer in Verse by Lucy Newlyn (Yale University Press) and The Historians (Carcanet Press), the last collection by Eavan Boland. The YA recommended list includes verse novel Wrecked by Louisa Reid (Guppy Books), Cherry Cola (Eyewear Publishing), an "intoxicating" debut by Nkere Mara which draws on poetic prose and the contemporary spoken word. It also includes "powerful" novel-in-verse Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam (HarperCollins).
This year also marks the youngest ever poet featured in the recommended reading lists. Nadim, aged four, author of Take Off Your Brave: Poems Just for You (Walker Books), is featured alongside Yapping Away by NPD ambassador Joshua Seigal (Bloomsbury Education) and Sofia the Dreamer and her Magical Afro by Jessica Wilson (Tallawah Publishing). The full list of recommended titles can be viewed online.
The event is supported by partners including the BBC, the Booksellers Association, Bookshop.org and Waterstones. Recommended titles will be promoted to over 4,000 reading groups and the UK library network via the Reading Agency, and through the NPD schools engagement campaign promoted in partnership with CLPE, Teach Primary and the National Literacy Trust. Free downloadable National Poetry Day resources have been made available to education providers working with children of all ages in schools and libraries. Last year saw downloads of 22,000 of these kits and resources, estimated to reach 660,000 young people.
Ahead of the event, display material, including 8,000 posters, 123,800 bookmarks featuring the campaign titles, 30,000 stickers, and 3,000 badges will be sent direct into bookshops, libraries and over 500 schools across the UK.
Mónica Parle, executive director of the Forward Arts Foundation, which runs the event, said: "With the help of a broad and vibrant range of trade partners we hope this year’s National Poetry Day Recommended Reading Lists will help everyone choose a poem – to share, read aloud, inspire their own responses and build connections. The year’s list of National Poetry Day books is the biggest yet and curated to help every reader discover a poetry book that brings them joy, solace, a sense of belonging. All these gifts are beautifully—almost magically—to be found in poetry in a direct, personal way. This list sparkles with a particularly rich breadth of lived experience, featuring a high representation of both established and emerging poets from across the nation and from a diverse, inclusive and accessible range of collections that aims to help everyone find poetry that speaks to them.”