National Poetry Day: the freedom of words

Poetry doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Of course, we all have the household favourites: Plath, Eliot, Hughes (both Ted and Langston), or Dr Seuss (my personal hero). But on a daily basis, we probably don’t find ourselves raving about our favourite new poetry collections – at least not in the same way we do about novels, films and albums. That’s why, around this time every year, the Forward Arts Foundation works hard to give poetry the love it so desperately deserves. Last week, we had the Forward Prizes – dubbed as the ‘Oscars of poetry’ – awarding huge prizes to exciting contemporary names like Sinéad Morrissey and Ocean Vuong. Now, we have National Poetry Day, an event designed to get all of the UK involved with poems by “organising events, displays, competitions or by simply posting favourite lines of poetry on social media using #nationalpoetryday.”

Every year, the National Poetry Day settles on a loose theme, which is designed “to kickstart inspiration rather than be prescriptive.” This year, the theme is freedom. Of course, this is a word with many connotations, but I like to think of it as the freedom that language itself can provide: the freedom to express yourself, the freedom to access whole new worlds and perspectives through literature.

But what does freedom mean to you and your students? To help your class explore that question, we’ve put together a list of 12 poetry prompts based on the theme of freedom. Why not write a poem from the perspective of a caged zoo animal? Or, perhaps on the lighter side, what says ‘FREEDOM!’ more than the last day of term?

Let us know how you get on with your freedom-based masterpieces by Tweeting us. We’d love to see how your students get on! And if you have any of your own inspiring prompts, why not tell us in the comments? Have a happy #NationalPoetryDay!

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