Suggestions for National Poetry Day 2019

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National Poetry Day is a UK-wide celebration of poetry taking place every October. Each year there’s a different theme and in 2019 the theme is Truth.

National Poetry Day generates an explosion of activity nationwide, thousands of amazing events across the UK – in schools, libraries, bookshops and hospitals, on buses, trains and boats – all celebrating poetry’s power to bring people together. 2019 is the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day – expect the celebrations to run all year long.

The Forward Arts Foundation have put together a list of their top poetry recommendations for reading groups, with something that will suit everyone and encourage fascinating discussions.





Book suggestions

Counting Backwards by Helen Dunmore
A retrospective covering ten collections writer over four decades, bringing together poems from her collections, and earlier poems.

Discipline by Jane Yeh
The presentation of a haunting a hilarious variety of lives, from an endangered young rhinoceros to the denizens of the 1980s New York club scene. These multifaceted poems explore what identity isn’t and is, as performance, as change, as art, with penetrating wit, challenging the voices of outsiders, artists, misfits, and others.

Up in the Attic by Pam Ayres (to be published 26/09/2019)
The brand new collection from the nation’s favourite poems, Pam Ayres. With the same magic that has enchanted her fans for more than four decades, Pam’s new collection is by turns hilarious, reflective and profound.

Forward Book of Poetry 2020 (to be published 05/09/2019)
The Forward Book of Poetry 2020 brings together a selection of the best poetry published in the British Isles over the last year, including the winners of the 2019 Forward Prizes – and a foreword by jury chair Shahidha Bari.

Tell Me the Truth About Life edited by Cerys Matthews (to be published 12/09/2019)
Curated and introduced by Cerys Matthews, this collection draws on the wisdom of crowds: featuring poems nominated for their insight into truth by a range of ordinary and extraordinary people: from Britain’s first astronaut, Helen Sharman, to the driver of the number 19 bus, from sporting heroes and world-famous musicians to teachers, artists and politicians. Their choices include contemporary work by Yrsa Daley-Ward, Warsan Shire and Kei Miller alongside classics by W H Auden, Emily Dickinson and Dylan Thomas.

The Poetry Pharmacy Returns by William Sieghart (to be published 26/09/2019)
The Poetry Pharmacy is one of the best-selling (and most giftable) poetry anthologies of recent decades. Now, after huge demand for more prescriptions from readers and ‘patients’ alike, William Sieghart is back. This time, tried-and-true classics from his in-person pharmacies are joined by readers’ favourite poems and the new conditions most requested by the public – all accompanied by his trademark meditations (warm, witty and understanding, with just a twist of the challenging) on the 58 spiritual ailments he seeks to cure.

Eternity by Tracy K. Smith
US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith has gathered this selection spanning her entire remarkable career. From the private experience of desire to the devastations of political strife, these poems enlarge our vocabulary for what it means to live, struggle, grieve and love.

Selected Poems by Denise Riley (to be published 19/09/2019)
Selected Poems includes the bulk of Denise Riley’s previous collection Mop Mop Georgette, together with selections from her previous Street Editions and Virago books and new, previously uncollected poems. It is the most complete collection of her poetry, including everything she currently wishes to preserve.

Afternoons Go Nowhere by Sheenagh Pugh
In Afternoons Go Nowhere the past seems more relevant to the present than ever, human nature never entirely predictable and often non-sensical, the natural world seeming full of a paradoxical beauty. There is also a piece entirely sympathetic to the digital new age where people in a ‘Bus Station’ are seen staring at their phones, the poem sings praises of connectivity in an otherwise dull context. Complex but with clear themes and lucid, musical language, Sheenagh Pugh’s tenth collection will delight discriminating readers.

Gen by Jonathan Edwards
Gen is a book of lions and rock stars, street parties and servants, postmen and voices. In the opening sequence’s exploration of youth and young manhood, the author sets his own Valleys upbringing against the ’50s youth of his parents and the experience of a range of pop culture icons, including Kurt Cobain and Harry Houdini. These poems give way to a sequence of monologues and character sketches, giving us the lives of crocodiles and food testers, pianists and retail park trees. Other poems place a Valleys village and the characters who live in it alongside explorations of Welsh history and prehistory, and the collection concludes with a selection of sometimes witty, sometimes heartfelt love poems.

Read all the suggested books

We have the exciting opportunity for one reading group to read and review all the suggested books. Apply online now and your group will receive one copy of each book to share. Whether you regularly read poetry, or never do, these suggestions will provide something for everyone. Apply now.

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Suggestions for National Poetry Day 2019

National Poetry Day generates an explosion of activity nationwide, thousands of amazing events across the UK – in schools, libraries, bookshops and hospitals, on buses, trains and boats – all celebrating poetry’s power to bring people together. 2019 is the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day – expect the celebrations to run all year long.

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