Thursday, 13 October 2011

National Poetry Day

On 6th October, National Poetry Day, I joined in a celebratory afternoon of free events presented by The Poetry Society and Southbank Centre, held in The Clore Ballroom at Royal Festival Hall. This year the theme was 'Games' and featured readings by leading UK poets. Joining them were some rising stars of poetry from the Foyle Young Poets and SLAMbassadors UK. Comperes: Joelle Taylor and Yemisi Blake took us through the following line up, which included:

Critically acclaimed poet and former Children's Laureate Michael Rosen who read alongside Times literary star Laura Dockrill and 'Fire Poet' Philip Wells.

Imtiaz Dharker and Glyn Maxwell, judges of this year's Foyle Young Poet of the Year Award, read their own work with previous winners Helen Mort and Richard O'Brien. We also heard exciting young performance poets Naga MC and Catherine Labiran, previous winners of SLAMbassadors UK. Then it was eyes down for Poetry Bingo with Sally Crabtree.

Bringing the games to a close was award-winning poet Jackie Kay together with Southbank Centre Artists in Residence Simon Armitage and Lemn Sissay, and National Poetry Day Poet in Residence Jo Shapcott. They were joined by National Poetry Day's Jo Bell and Eric Gregory Award-winner Ahren Warner, who launched the latest edition of Poetry Review.

This has to be one of my favourite events of the year as I felt privileged to be in the presence of such artistic excellence, such a wonderful blend of talented individuals. Jackie Kay, who I was particularly looking forward to seeing, was all I expected her to be, especially having recently read her brilliant autobiographical book, Red Dust Road (2010). She is not only a well-acclaimed and talented poet/writer, she's very witty and made us all roar with laughter. I felt inspired for some days after the event, the fond memories of this day will be everlasting.

Photo: Jackie Kay