IN PRAISE OF POETS. Chasing that Rhyme


Most poetry lovers in the UK will be well aware of the impact  the annual National Poetry Day celebrations have in raising the profile of poetry, introducing young people to the pleasure of reading, writing listening to and performing poetry, and in providing a platform for established and emerging poets alike to display and declare their work. National Poetry Day sees poets invited to schools to facilitate poetry or creative writing classes and libraries all over the country stage meet the poet events, in quite diverse forms.

For many years, as half of the poetry duo of writing and performing poets that was Just Poets I was always very busy in the UK, as part of the Schools programme at Touchstones Arts And Heritage Centre, working with schools that would arrange visits to the gallery looking to explore the exhibits with a poet during the days around National Poetry day that briefly saw poetry assume a privileged place on the primary and secondary curriculum.

For more information about National Poetry Day why not visit ? There you can find copies of favourite poems, details of events approaching the day itself, competitions, celebrations and how National Poetry Day has developed a synergy with the education programme in the UK:

When living in the UK and working with primary school children I would introduce them to not only my own work for children, published under the title of Sting in The Tale, a collection collated by Valerie Blume, but also to work by the likes of folk singer Tom Paxton, songwriter Shel Silverstein and of course to the immortal monologues once delivered by Stanley Holloway.

I also worked in secondary education facilities such as ESSA Academy in Bolton and Pleckgate High School in Blackburn and with outreach education facilitators at Crewe Football Club.

In the days before the country so firmly took National Poetry Day to heart, and the annual celebration gradually brought poetry back into the mainstream I think I and Pam McKee, my Just Poets partner, felt like voices in the wilderness. These days, though, there are poetry slams almost every night of the week up and down the country.

The Baum in Rochdale holds monthly poetry nights

The Folk ´n Poetry At The Baum nights are held one Sunday a month at The Baum, in an upstairs room of a cracking real ale pub on Toad Lane in Rochdale. Hosted by poet and parody pastiche writer Robin Parker, the night usually presents around fifteen to twenty local poets each reading a poem in each half, and among the regular leading lights are publioshed poets aplenty, including Katie Haigh, Seamus Kelly, Eileen Earnshaw and Robin himself amongst others. Admission is free and you can find details on our all across the arts pages in The Rochdale Observer, or look on the fb pages on any of those writers named here.

For instance I learned on a facebook post yesterday that Martin Figura and Helen Ivory will be the guest poets on Tuesday 3rd March at The Poetry Lounge in Ludlow. This is held in The Sitting Room of The Blue Boar on Mill Street in Ludlow, and according to the poet´s fb page you will be warmly received. In fact, the venue´s own fb page actually suggests that you come and hear renowned guest poets Helen Ivory and Martin Figura perform – then enjoy their rich and varied open mic with readings from Thirza Clout Carol Finch, Bert Molsom, Claire Leavey, Meg Cox, Steve Harrison Tina Cole, Nick Pearson and Paul Francis.

the Poetry Cafe

Similarly, Poetry @ 3 is held on the first Thursday of the month, and so you will be made welcome on 5th March. There is an open mic for poets who like to come out and play during the day. Hosted by the Poetry Society’s Paul McGrane, this is a FREE event that takes place at The Poetry Café at 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX. No booking required, just turn up. Sign up between 2.30 and 3 to read. As @3 is so popular we can’t put you on the list to read if you turn up after 3.

There’s usually a theme for each event but don’t worry if you don’t have poems on (or around) that subject – all poems are equally welcome. Sign up to read between 2.30 and 3. If you’d like to know the theme, though, email Paul at membership [AT]

If you organise or take part in your own regular or occasional poetry readings or slams, remember we here at all across the arts are always happy to signal the sidetracks and detours our readers might want to follow so they can swell your audience. We will always try to publish any news (ie announcements of venues, artists and dates), previews, (that is to say we will publish any advance notice you have of what might be read or any significant happening within the event, such as presentation or whatever), interviews, ( you might want to interview a winner or writer with a new publication and send us a copy of the interview in either print or audio format), or simply send us a review of the event (such as what worked and what didn´t, number of readers or pieces covered, size of audience and audience reaction, and a little piece of information about how the venue worked). We will always full attribute anything you send and you should feel free to add a photograph. More importantly still, make sure you include the date etc of the next event.

We look forward to hearing from you at

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