Celebrating National Poetry Day

Ask the book buyer…about new poetry that will reassure, entertain and empower

‘The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome…’

Dear reader,

The above is a quote from one of my favourite poems, ‘Love After Love’ by Derek Walcott. I’m sharing it because October 3rd marks the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Day in the UK, an annual celebration that encourages everyone to ‘enjoy, discover and share’ poetry.

Each year there is a different theme – in 2019 it is Truth – that poets and audiences interpret in varying ways to create unique works and performances. To mark the occasion, I have selected a mix of poetry-related titles to tempt you this fortnight, from anthologies to personal favourites.

Events large and small are happening on October 3rd all over the country and you can use this interactive map to find out what and where. Happy National Poetry Day!



Tell Me The Truth About Life


Tell Me The Truth About Life: A National Poetry Day Anthology, 100 Poems That Matter

Curated by Cerys Matthews


Published to celebrate the National Poetry Day anniversary, this is a ‘people’s anthology’, which has grown from a call-out to the public for their favourite poems around this year’s theme, Truth. I love the result: an eclectic and satisfying collection with poets ranging from W.H. Auden, Emily Dickinson and Dylan Thomas, to contemporary poets such as Kei Miller and John Cooper-Clarke. Many of the poems are also prefaced by a personal note from those who nominated them, so you glimpse personal experiences. Royalties from the book will be donated to the Forward Arts Foundation, who founded National Poetry Day.


Dancing by the Light of the Moon


Dancing by the Light of the Moon: How poetry can transform your memory and change your life

Gyles Brandreth


‘Poetry really can save your life…’ expounds Brandreth with his usual wit and panache, as he celebrates the benefits of learning poetry by heart in this uplifting new anthology for all ages. From enhancing literacy in the young to increasing memory and staving off aging, to a chapter dedicated to poems you might co-learn and read aloud with your partner (‘you won’t believe how sexy the experience can be’ he says)! Brandreth is also founder of the Poetry Together project that encourages young and old people to learn poems by heart and share them over tea and cake. Here are over 250 such poems for everyone to try.


The Waste Land


The Waste Land: Faber & Faber 90th Anniversary Edition

T.S. Eliot


This beautifully designed little hardback edition of T.S. Eliot’s landmark poem forms part of a new series from Faber & Faber to mark their own anniversary: 90 years of publishing. Carefully curated, there are ten volumes to collect, which reflect the calibre of Faber’s poetry offering over the decades, from Philip Larkin and Seamus Heaney to Jo Shapcott and Dajit Nagra. I chose The Waste Land partly for the stylish new cover design by Jonathan Gibbs and partly as, like many of you, I remember when I first read this poem and was immersed in its snaking, vivid, devastating vision.





Jessica Mookherjee


The poet’s second full collection, this is a striking, charged body of poems predominantly centred on themes of migration and belonging, drawn from Mookherjee’s life spent between Bengal, Wales and London. She creates something magical out this mix of identities, influences and cultures that seems to speak widely about the experience of feeling displaced or disconnected and of being an immigrant. ‘Song of the Soil’, ‘The Foreigner’ and ‘Stranger’, are especially powerful. And there’s more, with distinctive poems about childhood, womanhood, illness and myth, making this a memorable and intriguing new title.


Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope


Poetry Pharmacy Returns: More Prescriptions for Courage, Healing and Hope

William Seighart

RRP £12.99
Jarrold Price £10.99


The Poetry Pharmacy (published in 2017) became a bestselling anthology, in which William Sieghart (founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry) offered poetic prescriptions and wise words of advice for everything from loneliness to heartache to fear. Back by popular demand, he has now compiled Poetry Pharmacy Returns, ‘treating’ new ailments – be it family troubles, existential crises or ageing bodies – with poetic balms. I think everyone ought to have this on their Christmas list – it’s certainly going to be on mine.


How to be a Poet


How to be a Poet

Jo Bell and Jane Commane


I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve heard this book recommended and praised for its practical, encouraging, inspiring and accessible content. A perfect primer for poets new and established, it advises on the technical dimensions of writing poetry but also on challenges such as getting published, performing live and getting over writer’s block. How to be a Poet also features guest essays from poets including Mona Arshi, Abi Palmer and Jonathan Davidson. A must-have for poets and one to revisit as many times as you need.


Prices and availability checked Friday 20 September 2019

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