Some people have skipped over this post already, thinking they don’t “get” poetry or that their little rhymes or rushes of emotion spilled out in words are not “real” poetry. That’s certainly what I thought when I first heard about National Poetry Day. But October 3rd is not about the profound poetry of the elite. No, according to the website, it is “a nationwide celebration of poetry for everyone, everywhere: from assemblies, bus-queues, cafes, greengrocers, hospitals, ice-rinks to waiting-rooms, yacht clubs and zoos…a day when poetry slips off its dust-jacket and takes to the streets.”
Since 1994, on this designated day, school children take up the theme in pictures as well as words and even a rap or two. Poetry has been written and read on subways and in ambulances and in 140-character bits on Twitter. Four Welsh poets will be writing 100 poems in 24 hours.
Susannah Herbert, director of the Forward Arts Foundation, describes National Poetry Day as belonging to all who “have ever cried or laughed or loved or cursed and wished for words.” I know there is more than one writer here who fits that description, even if you don’t consider yourself a poet.
This year’s theme is Water. Imagine the wealth of poetry you could write if you were not bound by the definition.
I’ll leave you with this excerpt from Longfellow’s “The Day is Done”:
Come, read to me some poem,
Some simple and heartfelt lay,
That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.
Not from the grand old masters,
Not from the bards sublime,
Whose distant footsteps echo
Through the corridors of Time.
For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest
Life’s endless toil and endeavor;
And to-night I long for rest.
Read from some humbler poet,
Whose songs gushed from his heart,
As showers from the clouds of summer,
Or tears from the eyelids start;
Who, through long days of labor,
And nights devoid of ease,
Still heard in his soul the music
Of wonderful melodies.