Wednesday, 8 October 2014

National Poetry Day and beyond

National Poetry Day is always a special opportunity for everyone with an interest in the spoken and written word to join forces and celebrate what poems can do. This year it fell on October 2nd and I was lucky enough to be part of not just a day but a whole week of festivities. On Tuesday September 30th, I was in London, judging the Forward Prize for Poetry and it was a wonderful moment seeing winners Kei Miller and Liz Berry collect their prizes on stage at The South Bank. You can find out more about some of these events on this Guardian Books podcast. For National Poetry Day, Forward Arts were encouraging people to 'think of a poem', so myself and fellow judges Vahni Capildeo and Cerys Matthews joined the cause as you can see in this picture....

Back in Derbyshire on Thursday, participants at two library events (in Swadlincote and Shirebrook) were keen to remember poems they'd learned by heart and one woman at Swadlincote had even brought a supply of her own verses. I had an interesting morning and afternoon reading my own poems and talking about how I became a writer.And there was cake! The morning trip to Swadlincote library was my first ever trip to that corner of the county, but everyone made me feel so welcome I'm sure I'll be back.

This week, I was in Chesterfield signing books at Waterstones: when I was a teenager writing poems, I could never have dreamed I'd even have a book on the shelves at Waterstones, let alone be signing copies of it one day. Thanks to all the staff there for making me feel so welcome. In the afternoon, I worked with Moorside Writers and others in Chesterfield library in a creative writing workshop based around objects people had brought with them - every one had an interesting story behind it.

The celebrations aren't quite over yet - this Friday (10th October) I'll be reading poems at different cafes along Chatsworth Road in Chesterfield, part of the Chatsworth Road Festival. I'll be taking my verses for a walk round Brampton between 9.30 am and 3pm, so if you're at a cafe en route you'll have a chance to hear some live literature while you enjoy your tea. Please come and say hello!

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