Tag Archives: national poetry day

A Poetry Playlist on National Poetry Day

OK, so technically National Poetry Day was yesterday and I missed doing this Poetry Playlist post due to juggling 101 other things!

Whilst I love reading poetry on the page, it’s important to recognise that it developed from oral traditions, a means of passing down the values, wisdom and playfulness of humanity from one generation to the next before writing became common.

The Things We Thought Were Beautiful Poetry Book

So for me poetry exists in two very distinct states. The poem on the page, which emanates its power in a wonderful, still silence (if it’s good!) And then there’s the poem as read by the poet or avid reader, which can take on a wholly different feel. The pacing and the length of the end-of-line pause, the emphasis of certain words, the catching of the poem’s rhythm. All are shaped by the personal interpretation of the out-loud reader.

I’ve done quite a few poetry readings in the past – at festivals, schools, pubs and in such illustrious venues as the basement of the Troubador Cafe in Old Brompton Road, where Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones played (and Ed Sheeran and Laura Marling for you young folk!). But with Covid there’s much fewer chances of doing live readings, so why not take a look at this Poetry Playlist I’ve put together? In it, you’ll find me reading six of my favourite poems from my two collections, Up in the Air and The Things We Thought Were Beautiful.

And if they inspire you to read more, the books are available here:

It’s National Poetry Day! To celebrate, here’s a poem…

Bird Garden, Hong Kong

A big pastime for old men in Hong Kong is keeping songbirds. There’s a large garden in Kowloon, where many go to feed birds in return for songs. I wrote this poem about that garden when I visited it in 2001.

Old man and songbird

The poem was first published in Poetry File by the Belmont Arts Centre, for teaching in Secondary Schools in Shropshire. I’m posting it today because it’s National Poetry Day.

Isn’t it great we have a day to celebrate poetry!?

Bird Garden, Hong Kong features in my poetry book, Up in the Air: