‘Change,’ the late, great Alastair Reid wrote in his poem ‘The Spiral’, ‘change is where I live.’
As do we all during these tumultuous times, whether we wish it or not. Some of the most incisive thoughts on and resonant descriptions of ‘change’ have been provided by poets, whether it be the changes that remodel an entire society; the changes each of us face as we move through life; or the changes poetry undergoes each generation as fresh voices reinvigorate old forms.
All of which is preamble to announcing, if you don’t already know, that the theme for National Poetry Day 2018 is ‘change’.
National Poetry Day, for those who don’t know, is an annual celebration that encourages everyone to discover and share poems, whether through special events, displays, posting favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday or #poetryforachange, or sticking one of our special NPD postcards on your fridge. It takes place on Thursday, 4 October this year.
Ah, yes. Postcards. To mark the big day, the SPL is publishing six special poetry postcards. On each postcard, you’ll find a poem that illustrates a different aspect of the theme of ‘change’.
The poems you will find on our postcards this year are:
- ‘Doctor Wha’ by James Robertson. No television show has embraced change quite so much as Doctor Who, which in its fifty-plus years has featured fourteen different actors in its title role. With a woman taking over the Tardis for the first time this autumn, the Doctor’s latest regeneration means more than ever before. To mark the occasion, James Robertson has changed the final word in the poem from ‘he’ to ‘s/he’.
- ‘Meadowbank Changing Manifesto’ by Colin Herd. Herd playfully proposes ‘We need another word / for badminton’, a poem not so much about changing rooms as finding room for change.
- ‘My Pitch’ by Jackie Kay. We continue the sporting theme here as Kay’s poem pays tribute to Arthur Wharton, the world’s first black professional footballer.
- ‘Crith-Thamhainn / Earthquake’ by Ruaraidh MacThomais / Derick Thomson. Thomson’s poem, presented on the postcard in Gaelic and English, is about cultural resilience in the face of the changes wrought by time and disaster.
- ‘Tha sìol beag san talamh’, a traditional poem revised by Catriona Lexy Chaimbeul. A rhyme for children about a seed growing.
- ‘Woolly Bear’ by Valerie Gillies. In another poem for younger readers, Gillies considers the sort of metamorphosis common in the natural world.
You can see all the postcards here.
Cards will be sent out to schools and libraries, and be available to collect (appropriately) for free from the SPL. You can read the poems here, and print out posters based on the postcards here. Costs are supported by Creative Scotland and additional funding from the Gaelic Books Council.
Learn more about the poets whose poems NPD 2017 is showcasing here.
Teachers! We’re not neglecting you. We have sets of teaching notes on each of this year’s NPD poems, which can help you devise lessons and cross-curricular activities across your school.
In the UK, National Poetry Day is promoted by the Forward Arts Foundation, and we are one of the partner organisations across the UK. Explore their website here and sign up for emails to find out what’s available!
Talking of which, the SPL is holding its own event on NPD. On Thursday, 4 October, we’ll be hosting a National Poetry Day celebration. Forward Prize-winner Vahni Capildeo will headline, with support provided by Iain Morrison, who you may recall won a Creative Edinburgh award two years ago for the ‘Drag Queen Poems’ event he devised for and performed at the SPL. We’ll also be delving into the world of Doctor Who poems and there will also be an open mic session: if you have a poem about ‘change’ or wish to read a classic that touches on the theme, come along.
So, start planning now. How will you celebrate? Let us know what you’re doing for #nationalpoetryday by telling us at @ByLeavesWeLive and @PoetryDayUk.