Throughout the month of October, Great Britain celebrates historic and contemporary poets. Founded in 2000, National Poetry Month kicks off on National Poetry Day, which is typically held on the first Thursday of October (this year it was October 2nd). The festivities continue all month long with poetry readings, book releases, library events, and educational opportunities (both in-person and online).
The Performance Poetry Society organizes visits and readings by professional poets in bookshops, cafés and educational institutions across the country. Another national organization, the Poetry Society, is responsible for coordinating many of the events and contests that take place on National Poetry Day and throughout the month of October. The Poetry Society runs an extensive ongoing educational program that extends into the public schools and community education centers.
There are many poetry competitions that take place in Great Britain during the month of October. The winners of the Stanza Poetry Competition and the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award are both announced on National Poetry Day. The deadline for the National Poetry Competition is at the end of October, which gives poets time to become inspired during the month’s events. The National Poetry Competition was established in 1978 and quickly became one of the largest and most prestigious poetry competitions in the world. Past winners include both established and emerging poets. Winning the National Poetry Contest can vastly change an emerging poet’s career, and provide important global recognition for established poets. Past winners include current UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Tony Harrison, Ruth Padel, Philip Gross and Jo Shapcott. Get in on the action and read some of the winning poems here.