National Poetry Day 2015 - Thursday 8 October

The countdown is on!

National Poetry Day will be celebrated across the UK on Thursday 8 October 2015.

The theme is LIGHT, marking the UN International Year of Light 2015.

Here in Scotland, the Scottish Poetry Library has produced a series of 8 poem cards to celebrate. You can see images of designer Michael O'Shea's creative responses to the poems above.

Warm thanks go to our funder Creative Scotland and our project sponsors the Gaelic Book Trust and the Polish Cultural Institute for making this year's National Poetry Day celebrations possible.

Here are our top tips for preparing for National Poetry Day 2015:

1. Enjoy our featured light-themed poems for 2015

Take a look at our 8 poem cards by double clicking on the gallery of images above and scrolling through, or alternatively view the full plain texts and translations here. We're shining a spotlight on language, with poetry in English, Gaelic, Polish and Scots.

2. Be inspired by National Poetry Day plans from across Scotland

Check out how some schools, libraries and workplaces are planning to celebrate National Poetry Day in 2015 - read our roundup below. Warmest thanks to everyone who's shared their plans with us - we'd love to hear from even more folks at 

Image: Elgin Academy, National Poetry Day 2014

3. Download POSTERS & resources

Free printable posters are now available online here, to brighten up office loos, staff rooms, waiting rooms, library displays, classrooms, care homes and hallways in the lead-up to National Poetry Day 2015. Teachers can download learning resources on the same page, designed to help bring the poems alive in classrooms and make cross-curricular links. You can also take a look at our new guide for Reading Groups.

4. Join the #nationalpoetryday conversation online

Share a little poetry and light up others' days with poetry on Thursday 8 October 2015! Follow the Scottish Poetry Library on Twitter, sign up to our regular e-newsletter and like us on Facebook to make it easy to spread the word online.

Image: Love Heart <3 by -Weng- under a Creative Commons licence


Plans across Scotland for National Poetry Day 2015

North Ayrshire Schools and Libraries have been inspired by the National Poetry Day poem cards to create a special poetry and art project:

Pupils at St Matthew's Academy have completed their own designs for the National Poetry Day 2015 poems, thanks to the special efforts of school librarian Alison McNicol and teacher Lorraine Brewster who worked with arts Officer Alison Riggans to arrange visits from local artist Lynn McNally. An exhibition of the pupils’ work will be held in Saltcoats Library close to the school in October, and may tour other North Ayrshire libraries. The plan is for the St Matthews' designs to be sent to a local primary school in January, where pupils will be asked to write their own poem in Scots inspired by the designs and by the original poetry postcards, leading to another set of exhibitions in libraries.

Buckie High School in Moray is celebrating National Poetry Day all week:

  • 5th year photography students are working with a 1st year English class to create pinhole cameras, to take and develop a photo then use the photo as the inspiration to create a for a poem for Poetry Day.
  • 1st year art students are creating paper lanterns using copies of the poetry day poems which will be displayed in the library on a line of LED lights to illuminate poetry
  • A S2 class are writing poems based on lessons from science that have looked at light waves and photosynthesis
  • Poet Sheena Blackhall will be visiting the school to run poetry workshops and to be their roving Poet to take poetry to random classes throughout the school. As well as working on Doric Poetry with classes in the morning, she will be travelling the school, sharing appropriate poems in Scots with learners across different departments.
  • Special education department are working with the school librarian to research and write poems and make lanterns
  • Physics are running ‘Lightning Lunchtimes’ in the library, demonstrating a selection of light related experiments and projects.
  • Poetry corners will be appearing throughout the school to take poetry into the corridors and social areas of the school
  • Teachers will be displaying favourite poems on their classroom doors

Stromness Academy is holding a Poetry Picnic, a Poetry Competition and sharing poem cards

  • A Poetry Picnic will be held in the school library at lunchtime
  • Sharing Poetry – poem cards will be delivered by S6 volunteers during periods 1 – 3, where teachers will ‘drop everything and read’ poem cards if convenient, or read it out at the end of the lesson. 
  • Poetry Competition – staff and pupils are being asked to write a poem on the theme of ‘Light’.  Light-themed paintings are on display in the library to provide additional inspiration.
  • Poetry & Plagiarism – as part of the introduction to the poetry competition, S2 pupils wrote light-themed poems and were then asked to swap their work with someone else. The pupils then wrote their name on the piece of work they received.  Rewards were given and the outcry was tangible as pupils received rewards for something they didn’t write. A useful discussion about plagiarism ensued.  Thank you to the ever useful School Librarians’ Network forum for the idea.

Our friends at Moray Libraries have two wonderful light-themed events planned:

Light and the Winter Blues (PUBLIC EVENT)

Thursday 8th October: 2.00pm - 3.00pm & 7pm - 8pm, Forres Library

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light”
R L Stevenson

In the depths of winter, do you grieve for summer sunlight? Boost your well-being and prepare for winter on National Poetry Day! Join Dr Chloe Greenwood in Forres Library to find out about the winter blues, seasonal affective disorder and therapies available, including Light Therapy. The event will comprise a talk, informal discussion and poetry sharing as therapy.

Contact Forres Library on 01309 672834

Poetry: Shedding Light on Our Emotional Health with Moray Samaritans (PUBLIC EXHIBITION)

Poetry and the arts have been used for thousands of years as a form of self-expression. There is increasing evidence that engaging with literature and writing can have beneficial effects on emotional health. Samaritans Elgin celebrate National Poetry Day’s theme of Light with an uplifting information and poetry exhibition in Dufftown Library, Burghead Library and Milne’s Library throughout the months of October and November.

The Scottish Book Trust is bringing Jackie Kay into classrooms across the country:

Authors Live with the Scottish Book Trust: Celebrate National Poetry Day for Jackie Kay (ONLINE EVENT FOR SCHOOLS)

Thursday 8 October, 11am - 11.40am

The Scottish Book Trust is bringing Jackie Kay into classrooms across the country as part of a special broadcast to support National 5 English students. Sign up now to watch this live broadcast from BBC Scotland. Jackie will share her work and discuss the SQA National 5 set poetry pieces along with two other contemporary Scottish poets, MiKo Berry and Jenny Lindsay. MiKo and Jenny will be offering their own personal responses to Jackie’s work to inspire your pupils to do the same. Suitable for S1 to S6.

Register here

There's a special poetry event in Kilmarnock marking the eve of National Poetry Day:

Iain Banks Poetry with Ken MacLeod (PUBLIC EVENT)

Wednesday 7 October, 7pm, The Dick Institute, Kilmarnock

As a fitting tribute for this year’s National Poetry Day, Imprint is delighted to welcome award-winning author Ken MacLeod to discuss his close friendship with literary legend, the late Iain Banks and the volume of poetry they produced together which was published in February 2015. Part of the Imprint Book Festival 2015

Tickets here

Inverkeithing High School in Fife are celebrating National Poetry Day a day early with a huge range of events:

•        Paul Beaumont from the Scottish Schools Education Research Centre delivered a fascinating scientific lecture about light to our S2 pupils. We loved the beautiful and explosive demonstrations, as well as learning about the lives of fireflies, UK glow worms and jellyfish.
•        Scottish and European Slam Poetry Champion, Miko Berry, will deliver a poetry writing and performance workshop to our S1 and Advanced Higher pupils.
•        All pupils will enter the English Department's poetry writing competition. Feedback and prizes will be awarded on the day.
•        Our annual poetry recital competition, open to S1 and S2 pupils, will be held at lunchtime - judged by our Principal Teacher of English, Head Boy and Head Girl, and Miko Berry. Audience tickets for this event are always highly sought after.

Tobermory High School is planning an immersive Poetry and Light experience

Pupils from Tobermory High School are working on First Line Films and are also planning  to transform the school foyer into an immersive Poetry and Light Experience (which will include recordings of this year’s National Poetry Day in Scotland poems, made by students.)

Two libraries in the Scottish Borders are holding a poetry workshop on National Poetry Day:

Anne Ryland will be leading a poetry workshop in Eyemouth Library on Thursday 8 October for writers of all levels on the theme of Light. The event is free and runs from 2.15 to 4.45pm. Booking is essential on 018907 52767 /
01750 726400 /

In Hawick Library on Thursday 8 October, Tom Murray will be leading a poetry workshop for writers of all levels. The theme is Light. The event is free and runs from 7pm-9pm. Booking is essential on 01450 364640 / 01750 726400 /

A huge banner (which could be the UK's largest printed poem) will be launched on Edinburgh's Royal Mile on Thursday 8 October:

The poem was chosen from a shortlist as part of the Big Words public vote. Although the vote has now closed, you can read more about it at

Keep in touch!

Have you got plans you'd like to share with others here, or with the team at the Scottish Poetry Library? We're always keen to know what you're up to, so that we can plan how best to support poetry activities throughout Scotland.

Drop Amy McDonald (Projects Manager, maternity cover) and Georgi Gill (Learning Manager) a line at - we'd love to hear from you.