Prince Charles to launch poetry day

By BBC/Shellmith Njagi

The Prince of Wales is to read Seamus Heaney’s poem The Shipping Forecast to mark the start of National Poetry Day.

The recording will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme as part of the annual nationwide poetry celebration.

This year’s theme is Messages, and the public are being encouraged to “say it with a poem”.

The Royal Mail will also use a special postmark on millions of items on Thursday.

In addition, 40 BBC local radio stations have engaged 40 poets to celebrate England’s best-loved local landmarks in verse.

“A poem can reach places that prose just can’t,” National Poetry Day director Susannah Herbert said.

“That’s why we’re inviting all with anything important to say today to say it with a poem. It can be new or old, utterly original or a familiar favorite.

“It can be deep and dark, funny or memorable. By enjoying, discovering or sharing a poem – words that draw attention to themselves – you change the nature of the national conversation.”

Other poetry events around the UK include:

  • In Wales, four young poets will be locked up to compose 100 poems in 24 hours.
  • In Scotland, 380,000 poetry postcards have been given away by the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh. In Glasgow, poets, librarians and Big Issue street vendors will give poetry readings around the city.
  • In Northern Ireland, the finals of the Ireland National Poetry competition will be held at the Parliament Buildings in Stormont.
  • Singer PJ Harvey will collaborate with young poetry producers at London’s Southbank Centre.
  • Poems by young refugees and migrants will replace the short video introductions that appear before each programme on Channel 4.
  • Poetry-themed tickets will be distributed to passengers at St Pancras International station in London.

Later on Thursday, The Poetry Society will announce the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016 at London’s Festival Hall.