Poetry Rivals 2016

Taking poetry from the page to the stage!

It's National Poetry Day!

Date Posted: 02-10-2014 09:32:20

National Poetry Day is on the 2nd October and the theme this year is Remember. Nostalgia does seem to inspire a thirst for verse, with the written word being a much loved outlet for our memories and musings.


Even the structure of poetry has its roots in remembrance - poetry was originally a way for generations to pass on their stories and history orally, without the need for a writing system. Rhythm, rhyme and metre made it possible to remember large passages at a time, with the practice originating from ancient folklore and continuing throughout the centuries. And the ancient Romans and Greeks wrote lyrical poetry so that it was easily recalled and repeated due to its rhythm and beat – songwriters and musicians today use the same methods to make their songs catchy!


Children have traditionally been taught rhymes to remember things (‘Thirty days hath September...’ / ‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November...’) but how about bringing this tradition to modern day spoken word?  Taking inspiration from hip hop artist Mos Def, who used the letters of the alphabet to flow through his verse, spoken word poet Scroobius Pip took this to an extreme in his song Development - rapping the elements of the periodic table to a beat. I know it doesn’t sound very cool, but it’s self-aware enough to work, and now it’s the only way I can remember what beryllium actually does.


More traditionally, classic poetry has dealt with the theme of memory in great depth. One of the most well-known poems from the Pre-Raphaelite era is Christina Rosetti’s Remember, and Romantic poets such as Percy Shelley and John Clare often dealt with the theme in their works. Remembering fallen soldiers is a common theme in war poetry, such as the classic lines from Robert Binyon’s poem: ‘At the going down of the sun and in the morning / We will remember them.’


How will this year’s theme inspire your writing? Could you pen a poem with rhythm and rhyme that could easily be recalled without reading it? Or perhaps you’ll write something that would work to a beat, like the spoken word and hip hop artists of today? Maybe try a classic poem about your most valued memories – The Forward Arts Foundation suggests using keepsakes, souvenirs, diaries and old photographs as inspiration; sometimes the simplest of objects can stir up memories long-forgotten.


Let us know in the comments where this year’s theme will take you...


Post a Comment