06 October 2023
For National Poetry Day, poet Bea Hutchings reminds us that all our verse has value
On the night before National Poetry Day, I performed my prize-winning poem. ‘Oh, I do Like to be Beside the Seaside,’ at Big Poetry, in Torquay Devon.
Ever since I was a young child, poetry has given me an unmeasurable amount of pleasure. Whether I was writing it or reading works by other poets, it didn’t matter. So long as I was playing with words, I was happy. I remember my poetry book at school complete with hand drawn illustrations of houses with lots of windows, windows of opportunity perhaps.
Who knows why I choose to write a poem about houses, but I remember how scared I was to read my poems out in class.
Now, I love performing my poetry, but I still get that little knot of anxiety before I start. Will the audience like it, will they laugh or be moved by the spoken word.
Back in the day, there was no National Poetry Day to look forward to, nothing to anchor that dream into reality of being a real poet one day. But has there ever been a crown that says, ‘you are now a real poet?’ No, I don’t think so. But it takes a lot of dedication and hard work to become Poet Laureate, who are masters of their trade.
However, there is nothing to stop everyone enjoying writing, and reading poetry. Of course, there have always been people to aspire to especially if you admire their poetry. But what about those people who are hesitant, who never think their work is good enough?
National Poetry Day was created to prove that poetry is for everyone, and everyone does mean everyone whether you’re on the bus, in the train, in the queue at Tesco, (other shops are available), in fact I find shops particularly inspiring. (Shhh, don’t tell anyone!) And the day gives us express encouragement to enjoy whatever poet, style, structure, length of poem we choose. Or even try something different and read a poem you’ve never read before and one you’d maybe never dreamt of reading.
Schools around the UK celebrate National Poetry Day big style, so don’t be surprised if you see some very sweet dragons walk past your door, or a character from a book such as there are in An Anthology of Poetry – The Ring Of Words, edited by Roger McGough. It is full of wonderful poems by poets such as Walter de la Mare, Percy Bysshe Shelly, Elisabeth Bishop… the list is rather long!
So come on UK, let's hear those voices reading, singing, and enjoying poems, share them with family and friends, work colleagues, everyone you meet. Read poems on buildings, in parks, the fish and chip van, even on the froth in your coffee. And don’t forget to go along to Open Mic nights and enjoy listening to the spoken word and read out some of your own. You won’t be disappointed.
National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by Wiliam Sieghart and is an annual event which takes place on the first Thursday of October. It is coordinated by the charity Forward Arts Foundation.
This year’s theme is Refuge.
An Ode to Poets
All things word and wonderful,
All pens great and small,
All madcap moments in your head,
Go forth and write them all.
Bea Hutchings 2020.
Bea Hutchings won the poetry category of the Win Your Way to Swanwick 2023 competition with ‘Oh, I do Like to be Beside the Seaside’. She is the author of Heads, Hearts and Tails, A Distillery of Poetry and Stories and can be found on Twitter: @Beaspokewriter
Writing poetry is really beneficial for wellbeing. Read what much-loved poet Donna Ashworth says about the value of poetry and the process of writing her new book, Wild Hope