National Poetry Day 2011

“Poetry is the music of being human” – Carol Ann Duffy, Poet Laureate

It’s National Poetry Day today – but you knew that, didn’t you? And the theme for this year – and I think we can probably all guess why – is ‘Games’.

I launched into ‘Poetry’ (with a capital ‘P’!), with my class last night and, just as I’d started, one of my students piped up with, “But how do you write a poem?’ Eek – good question! Give me another 8 sessions and we might have an answer.

The shortest response I can give to that little conundrum is probably:

1. Read lots of poetry, to see what a poem IS – or can be.
2. Keep it simple and clear.
3. Read it aloud. A poem must sound nice!
4. Have a go, experiment. The first thing you write might well be rubbish but you can improve it.

I’ve probably thrown them in a little at the deep end and they may well have felt happier if we’d started off with some poems with strict form and ‘rules’ (such as haiku, sonnets and limericks) BUT National Poetry Day was too good an opportunity to miss! And I’ve got a feeling they’re going to come up with some good stuff on the theme of ‘Games’.

While we’re on the subject of poetry, you may remember I was involved in that mad ‘Great West Midlands Poetry Relay’ back in the Summer. 10 poets, 10 locations, 10 poems (on the theme of an ‘alternative Olympic event’) and a minibus. Oh and 10 pigeons, racing back to their loft with our poems in the little ring round their legs (and mine came first – amazing!)

If it all sounds a little surreal, believe me, it was! But fun too. (And that’s the other thing about poetry – you can really have some FUN with it. It’s not, as many people think, all stuffy, starchy pontificating).

The Poetry Relay website is up and running. You can even hear us reading our poems (I sound soooo ‘Brummie’!!) – and me shrieking when the pigeons were released from their basket. If you do feel inclined to click the link here, make sure you listen to Emma Purshouse’s poem. She was given Stoke Railway station as her venue and wrote – in my humble opinion – the best poem of all (and had to perform it no less than 10 times because she was the first poet – and all with a stinking cold, so well done Emma!).

And finally, the event I was involved with last Monday, ‘An Evening With The Poet Laureates’ went well (where were you?!). We had to battle against creaky floorboards, noisy traffic outside, no microphone and, even more devastating – NO WINE! But it was a good evening and the forty or so hardy souls who turned up (thank you, thank you!) seemed to enjoy themselves.

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4 Responses to National Poetry Day 2011

  1. I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know it was National Poetry Day…

  2. Oooh, I didn’t know either.. They kept that quiet. Will have a look at those links later.

  3. Stephanie Holliday says:

    It missed me too……

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