By Alexander Rodgers
Poetry: an artistic form of writing, of self-expression, that allows us to reflect on ourselves, connect with the world, understand others. It serves as a creative medium to express our inner thoughts and emotions, and to share our experiences.
If you’re studying in the UK during the month the month of October, you may very well come across the yearly event that is National Poetry Day! Taking place in the first Thursday of October, this wonderful event celebrates the joys of crafting, experiencing, and presenting poetry in all its forms. Every year the campaign aims to showcase newly emerging poets, encourage diversity within the poetry scene, and promote the benefits of poetry for our mental health- and if one thing has become clear since covid, it’s that poetry is extremely beneficial for our emotional and mental wellbeing. For example, in 2020 66.5% of children and young people agreed that engaging in poetry helped them cope with the mental repercussions of the 2020 covid lockdown (The National Literacy Trust).
One integral value pushed by the campaign is that there are no boundaries as to who can immerse themselves in this event, and poetry in its entirety.
National Poetry Day’s origins can be traced back to 1994, when poetry charity Forward Arts Foundation established the campaign with a clear vision: to increase awareness of poetry’s wonders, and the role it can play in our lives. Nearly three decades later, National Poetry Day continues to coordinate activities with community libraries, schools, workplaces, and booksellers across the country, whilst receiving support from institutions including the BBC and Arts Council England.
Theme of this year’s celebration is ‘The Environment’ – whether it’s about the natural world, sustainability, even our everyday suburban, work, and city environments, this year’s poems will focus on the Environment as a broad and interpretive concept.
There are many ways you can immerse yourself in this year’s celebration: from reading poetry, sharing your work with others, attending spoken-word poetry events, or spreading the joy of poetry within your local community- And one of the benefits of this event is that it’s completely free to join in! On the official National Poetry Day website you can find a map showing all poetry events associated with the campaign: Events - National Poetry Day . You can also find a guide to some of London’s fantastic range of poetry-related events taking place over the Autumn season at London, United Kingdom Poetry Events | Eventbrite.
Poetry, in all its every-changing forms, has been a part of human society for over 5000 years. Take the Epic of Gilgamesh: an epic poem about the heroic king Gilgamesh, written during Ancient Mesopotamia; it is considered one of the most iconic, and oldest, forms of literature in recorded history. It is due to poetry’s profound power to move, inspire, teach, and even heal us that has allowed for this art-form to expand across borders, societies, and generations.
To write poetry, no matter how ‘good’ or ‘bad’, all you need is life experience: achievements, traumas, embarrassment, bliss, childhood memories and old-age anxieties, regret, love, frustration, hurt, or simply wanting to feel understood- all these experiences and emotions serve as the greatest inspiration to create poetry.
This year, let yourself become lost in hours of poetry readings on YouTube, or ask your friends and family to share any poetry they have written, expose yourself to the magical world of poetry, and (if you feel brave enough) have a go at writing some yourself.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please leave a comment below, and be sure to spread the word about this year’s event. Happy writing!