Prince Charles kicks off National Poetry Day celebrations

Prince Charles kicks off National Poetry Day celebrations

Celebrations for National Poetry Day are underway with Prince Charles reciting his favourite poem on Radio 2 and poets across the country revealing new poems inspired by the places we call home.

On BBC Radio 2's Breakfast Show today (3rd October), Prince Charles, in a pre-recorded clip, spoke about Bernard Levin's Quoting Shakespeare, saying how the poem "reminds one of how remarkable the English playwright was", before reciting the poem. 

He added: "I would like to read what I’ve always thought was something rather special, written, it must be over 40 years ago I suppose, by somebody called Bernard Levin. He wrote this, I think, brilliant piece entitled Quoting Shakespeare. It was one of Bernard Levin’s enthusiasms. The great thing about it, I think, is it reminds us all just how many words and phrases we use in the English language and in general conversation which actually were originally written by Shakespeare."

Elsewhere an an England-wide call-out to BBC Local Radio listeners for significant stories, observations and truths that illuminate the places we call home has inspired 13 new poems for the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day. 

The new poems offer insights into the “hidden truths” of the towns and communities of England, juxtaposing local lore with football chants, slang and pub names to map the idiosyncratic sources of pride across the regions. The 13 local poets, including Young People’s Laureate for London, Theresa Lola, the Grand Bard of Exeter, Kimwei McCarthy and the Derby County Football poet, Jamie Thrasivoulou, will have they rpoems broadcast on BBC Local Radio today.

Forwards Arts Foundation executive director Susannah Herbert said: “National Poetry Day is a chance to put a collective ear to the ground, hear what really matters to people and share it in a form that everyone can enjoy – verse. BBC Local Radio’s listeners’ love of vivid, memorable language, their delight in their dialects, their pride in  their traditions of welcome, are all honoured in this year’s #HomeTruths initiative. They say it takes a village to raise a child: maybe the same is true of poetry. It takes a county, a city, an entire country to create a poem.”

Chris Burns, head of audio and digital BBC England, added: “I hope our audiences enjoy these fabulous poems created by our 13 poets. They've been working closely with our stations and taken inspiration from our listeners' comments and suggestions. This is great partnership with National Poetry Day - and another example of our radio stations’ being the BBC's front door to talent”.

This is the fourth year that National Poetry Day is partnering with BBC Local Radio, in an on- going initiative that has seen more than 70 new poems commissioned since 2015, on themes of Change (2018), Freedom (2017) and Messages (2016).