National Poetry Day

Francesca Beard c. Talissa Makdessi
Francesca Beard c. Talissa Makdessi

Since 1994 National Poetry Day has engaged millions of people with poetry through a range of live events and web-based activities for people throughout the country. Such a variety of poetry is written and read that each year the day is given a new theme, in order to highlight particular poets and styles of poetry.

In 2007 the organisation of National Poetry Day was transferred to a dedicated organisation (where you can find out about other NPD events, and even add your own to their map), though The Poetry Society continues to celebrate the day with exciting events and initiatives each year, including a whole day of poetry at National Poetry Day Live, held each year at the Southbank Centre, London.

This year’s National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day was on 6 October 2016, and the theme was Messages. The Poetry Society celebrated with a range of projects and events:

Messages Poems

“The air is static
               pent with heat.
               I lie watching
the curtains light up in morse”

– from ‘Storm‘ by Jennie Carr

The winners of our latest Members’ Poems Competition on the theme of ‘Messages’ have been announced, and published in the latest issue of Poetry News, our members’ newsletter. We also have a wide range of poems available on our online Poems database – some of which we have picked out for the theme. You can explore these poems from this page, where we have gathered some of them together. Why not start with ‘Storm’ by Jennie Carr?

The winners of the Stanza Poetry Competition were announced on National Poetry Day itself, and these poems have been written on an ‘opposite’ theme of ‘Silence’. 

National Poetry Day Live 2016

The Poetry Society worked again with the Southbank Centre to put on a free afternoon of poetry, 1-6.30pm, at National Poetry Day Live. The event this year, hosted by Inua Ellams and Indigo Williams, featured Mercury Prize-winning artist PJ Harvey, Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell and many, many more. Programmed by a group of young poetry producers aged 18-25, National Poetry Day Live presents the last word in all that’s new and most exciting in poetry, with an array of messages-themed performances and workshops, and activities for all ages.

NPD Live performers
(from top left) Ian McMillan, Hannah Lowe, Keaton Henson, Indigo Williams, Salena Godden, Luke Kennard (c. Billie Charity-Prescott), Fran Lock, Hannah Silva and PJ Harvey (c.Anna van Kooij).

Teaching Resources

The Poetry Society has contributed to the range of free resources available on the National Poetry Day website. Find out how to get more poetry into the classroom on this national day of celebration – and beyond.

Poetry Periscope at Durham Book Festival

What better day than National Poetry Day to call in at the Poetry Periscope, as it appears for the duration of Durham Book Festival at the Palace Green Library, from 16 September until 16 October. Press a button on the bright yellow periscope and hear any one of a selection of poems by European poets.

Poetry in the Piazza

Join us at a pop-up Poetry Garden outside the main entrance of London Transport Museum to celebrate National Poetry Day 2016. We will be exploring this year’s theme of ‘Messages’, inviting visitors to write their own messages, indulge in some word-play, flick through poetry books and even listen to a poem recital or two!

Poetry at Covent Garden Station

We’re delighted that for the third year running you will be able to listen in at our local Underground Station, Covent Garden, for some ‘Messages’ related poems being read aloud over the tannoy throughout the day. 



Prior to 1999 National Poetry Day was not themed. Since then it has had a new theme each year.

2016: Messages
2015: Light
2014: Remember
2013: ‘Water, water everywhere’
2012: Stars
2011: Games
2010: Home
2009: Heroes and Heroines
2008: Work
2007: Dreams
2006: Identity
2005: The Future
2004: Food
2003: Britain
2002: Celebration
2001: Journeys
2000: Fresh Voices
1999: Song Lyrics