Suggestions for National Poetry Day

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National Poetry Day is the annual, UK-wide celebration of poetry that brings people together to read, enjoy and share poems. With events happening all over the country as well as online, you can join in the festivities by sharing your favourite poem or poet and discovering new ones.

In the lead-up to National Poetry Day on 4 October, we’re putting the spotlight on poetry to get ready for the big day. Together with the Forward Arts Foundation, we have 12 books especially chosen for reading groups with questions to help guide your discussion.

The Forward Book of Poetry 2019, various
An anthology of the best poetry published in the British Isles over the last year, showing the range and ambition of today’s fresh voices alongside new work by familiar names – the perfect introduction to contemporary poetry.

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The Emergency Poet: An Anti-Stress Anthology, edited by Deborah Alma
An anthology of tried and tested cures including old and new poems to provide a pick-me-up for the soul in a hectic world from the world’s first and only Emergency Poet.

Undying: A Love Story, Michel Faber
A heartfelt and heart-breaking collection addressed to Faber’s late wife, chronicling a life spent together. These poems explore what it means to find the love of your life and what it is like to have to say goodbye.

Luck is the Hook, Imtiaz Dharker
This collections explores themes drawn from a life of traditions, in which chance plays a part in finding or losing people and places that are loved.

Visiting the Minotaur, Claire Williamson
Williamson comes to term with her own identity through entering a labyrinth of her own complicated family history. She borrows from myths and history to fashion her artful meditations on experience and mortality.

Ricantations, Loretta Collins Klobah
Reflections on contemporary life, history, art, medicine, violence and the poet’s own experience, showing the multi-layered reality of Puerto Rican life.

England: Poems from a School, Kate Clanchy
An anthology bringing together poems written by pupils in a school of children from all over the world. As Clanchy writes, “The poems document migration, which is a central experience of our contemporary world, but they also remind us of the ancient purpose of poetry; to share, to explain, and to remember.”

Unwritten: Caribbean Poems After the First World War, edited by Karen McCarthy Woolf
Contemporary poets respond to the Caribbean experience of the First World War, stories that remain largely untold in poetry. They faced injustice, prejudice and indifference from the very country for which they had signed up to fight.

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A Watchful Astronomy, Paul Deaton
A collection haunted by the ghost of Deaton’s father, a figure that arises in various guises in emotional poems guided by nature.

Rise Like Lions: Poetry for the Many, compiled by Ben Okri
A collection of poetry from across centuries and continents, this is a celebration of poetry that moves us to action, calls for change and meditates on truth.

Essex Clay, Andrew Motion
A long poem that rekindles, expands and gives a tragic resonance to subjects that have haunted the poet throughout his writing life.

Gold from the Stone: New & Selected Poems, Lemn Sissay
New and old favourites from one of Britain’s most exciting poets, who has performed to thousands of football fans at the FA Cup Final, to hundreds of thousands as the poet of the London Olympics, and to millions across our TV screens and the airwaves of BBC Radio.

For more information about each collection, and questions to help guide your discussion, see the full resource guide.

More poetry news

Poetry for younger readers

Over on Reading Hack we also suggestions of poetry collections for younger readers (13-24). Do you know anyone else who would be interested in reading poetry?

Featured poetry groups

We’ve recently featured two poetry reading groups – the Sussex Sticks Poetry Reading Group and the Newcastle City Library Poetry Group. The members of each group read poetry for different reasons, but come together to discuss and enjoy it together. Both groups agree that poetry has an emotive power and can be personal in the way that each person reads and interprets it. They’ve also told us who some of their favourite poets are, including Roald Dahl, Philip Larkin and Ellen Phethean. Have you read any of their work?

Get involved

Want to tell us more about your reading group? Send us your story and we might feature you in an upcoming article.

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Review your most recent books, and see what other readers have thought.

Not yet in a reading group? Find one in your area, or read out tips for starting your own.

Join in the conversation online – find us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #nationalpoetryday.

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