Culture24's top ten events for National Poetry Day

By Sarah Jackson | 02 October 2013

Since 1994 National Poetry Day has celebrated all the things that can’t be said in prose alone. This year's suggested theme is “water, water, everywhere”, but participants are encouraged to let their creativity go wild. Here are ten of our top picks for letting your muse run free.

Image of children playing in a paddling pool by Shirley Hughes.
Water by Shirley Hughes – National Poetry Day 2013© Courtesy of Forward Arts Foundation. Water is reproduced by permission of Walker Books, London
National Poetry Day Live at The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre
October 3, 1.00pm-6.00pm. Free.

Showcasing the best poetry and spoken word in the UK, the Poetry Society and Southbank Centre are hosting a wide variety of events including performances by Simon Armitage, Patience Agbabi, John Wedgwood Clarke and beatboxer Tiana Oldroyd (aka BadaboomTee).

For those feeling brave enough, the Poetry Butchers will be on hand to critique your poems or try Amy Sharrock’s Museum of Water for a far less stressful way to participate. Visitors are invited to choose some water that it precious to them and submit it along with description or poem describing why it is important.

Adam Kammerling at Hundred Years Gallery, London
October 3, 7pm (show continues until October 9). Free

Winner of the UK Slam Champion competition 2012, Adam Kammerling isl having his own spoken word event at the Hundred Years Gallery. After honing his craft in the rap battles and open-mic cyphers of Brighton’s hip-hop scene he know performs his own unique flavour of humerous, immersive and eclectic poetry nationally and internationally.

From Gilgamesh to Beowulf, Poetry Writing Workshop at the Ashmolean Museum
October 3, 10am-12.30pm (Gilgamesh with Jenny Lewis) and 1.30pm-4pm (Beowulf with Jane Draycott). £15 per workshop

Trace the journeys of two of literature’s great epics in two workshops led by Jenny Lewis and Jane Draycott. Participants can choose to attend a creative writing workship based on the Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh written in 2,700 BC, or one based on the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf of 800 AD – or even both.

Group readings of the poems created in the workshops will be led by both Jane and Jenny from 4pm onwards. Workshops can be booked together or separately.

Wet Shirts & Washing Lines at Jane Austen’s House Museum

October 3, lunchtime. Free.

Following the “water, water, everywhere” theme, Jane Austen’s House Museum has been encouraging its visitors to write poems on the theme of water. On October 3 these will be hung on washing lines in the Historic Kitchen and Bakehouse using old-fashioned clothes pegs – cut-out clothes templates will also be available for children to use.

Over lunchtime poems will be read either outside as poetry picnic or in the Historic Kitchen depending on the weather.

London Welsh Literature Festival at the London Welsh Centre
October 3 – 5. £22.

The inaugural London Welsh Literature Festival kicks off with poetry and performance workshops for schoolchildren with the Young People’s Laureate for Wales, Martin Daws, and Bardd Plant Cymru, Aneirin Karadog.

Both lauretes will also perform with Molly Naylor, Joe Dunthorne, and Rufus Mufasa on Saturday afternoon. Other highlights of the festival include a preview of the celebrations for the centenary of Dylan Thomas in 2014 and a conversation with BBC News presenter Huw Edwards.

The Great Grimsby Poetry Relay beginning at Grimsby Dock Tower
October 3, 10.00am-12.30pm. Free.

A live relay of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (the source of the often misquoted line “Water, water, every where / Nor any drop to drink) involving 72 members of the public, private and student sectors will start at the top of Grimsby Dock Tower with a megaphone.

The poem will travel around the region before concluding in St James’ Square with the final passage being read by Grimsby-native and professional poet Anthony Suter.

Water, water everywhere: Dove Cottage Poetry Marathon at Dove Cottage, Cumbria
October 3, 11.00am-3.00pm. Free.

Dove Cottage, the home of Coleridge’s greatest friend and poetic collaborator William Wordsworth is hosting a poetry marathon, aiming to read 100 poems in four hours.

Visitors can bring their favourite water-themed poem or choose from a list of classic and contemporary poems to read – or simply relax and let the words flow over them.

Carol Ann Duffy & Imtiaz Dharker: a National Poetry Day Celebration at The Studio, Library of Birmingham
October 3, 7.30pm-9pm.  £10 / £8.

Recently redeveloped, the Library of Birmingham is the largest public library in the United Kingdom, the largest public cultural space in Europe, and the largest regional library in Europe.

In keeping with such a grand venue, the library is celebrating National Poetry Day with gala performances from UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Imtiaz Dharker.

Poems of the Sea at Lancaster Maritime Museum
October 3, 12pm-2pm. Free.

Lancaster Maritime Museum is inviting people to come to the museum café to read their favourite sea-related poem or, if they feel inspired by Lancaster’s rich maritime heritage, write a new one of their own.

Pop Up Poetry at the Scottish National Gallery

October 3, 11.30am-12.30pm. Free.

Did you know that the National Galleries of Scotland have their own creative writing group? Words on Canvas will read their original works in front of the water pictures that initially inspired them.

Expect a wide variety of poems, moods and pictures! Tours will start on the main gallery floor and run at 11.30-12.30pm and 2-3pm.

Follow National Poetry Day on Twitter @PoetryDayUK.

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