To me, of course, every day is Poetry Day and at least here in Cymru our heroes and heroines are bards crowned and chaired at eisteddfodau. One newsreporter at the Poetry Society HQ told us that poets were reading there all day and also lots of young people (just to show that poetry isn't only for the ancients). To be fair, Simon Armitage was interviewed later and replied eloquently, explaining how poetry was something everybody could try, a genuinely democratic art.
Almost all newspapers ( if they covered it at all) focussed on the poll of Britain's Top 10 Poets. Number One was T.S.Eliot for 'Cats' apparently ( never mind 'Four Quartets' or 'The Wasteland') : he was renowned for a hit musical. It was rather unsettling that most of the top ten were dead and Seamus Heaney didn't get a look in. Not-So-Famous Seamus all of a sudden.
What you failed to get a sense of was the sheer plethora of events happening across the country : in schools, libraries, community centres and, in my case , a museum. I had the privilege of being poet-in-residence for the day at Big Pit mining museum near Blaenavon. It was tricky writing sonnets about pit-ponies underground with only the light of a miner's lamp, I can tell you.
Actually, it entailed the writing of a single Big Big Pit Poem, a communal effort by many Junior schoolchildren from Merthyr and Abertillery, unsuspecting members of the public who I press-ganged into contributing and staff ( some of whom are ex-miners). The result will be seen on the museum website - www.museumwales.ac.uk/en/bigpit
The great enthusiam of all those who contributed to the poem was truly inspiring.
Apart from this week, my best memories of Poetry Day are those spent on several occasions in Caerphilly Borough, taking part in their renowned whirlwind tour of schools.
Four or five poets are involved and each visits up to six or seven schools throughout the borough during the day, doing readings and workshops. The whole thing usually begins with a mass Poetry Breakfast at one Junior school and ends with a get-together. The most memorable ending was a surreal beach party in Bargoed Library, which I wrote about in my poem 'On Bargoed Beach'. In Blackwood Comp. once , I found that I was visiting because I'd been won as a 'prize' by a pupil!
The following is my most recent poem and I'm sure TV exec's will be ready and willing to respond -
STRICTLY MASTER-POETRY X FACTOR
Can't wait until
'Strictly Master-Poetry X Factor'
reaches our screens.
I'd have to prepare the perfect couplet
garnished with similes
in a sauce of reduced metaphor.
To construct an elaborate villanelle
with those flourishes of structure
and all without a partner.
I'd have to make a sonnet sing
unerring in its lyricism,
in the manner of Shelley or Keats.
Out of my comfort zone,
I'd be challenged by a Masterbard
to produce a concrete poem for a Christmas card.
Then the Final, in front of those judges -
Heaney, Duffy and Armitage.
20 million viewers (six noughts more than a poetry reading);
to render a narrative ballad in terza rima
from the persona of the buried wife
of a mass murderer......who happened to come from Merthyr.
'What wonderful scansion!' would be the drool from Shamey.
'What mastery of rhyme!' the croon from Duffy.
Simon - for once not caustic - would proclaim me winner.