This year’s UK National Poetry Day is on the 1st October. Its theme is Vision.
It might seem so, but it’s never too early to start thinking about and planning for this. I have two reasons for doing so now.
As a teacher/writer, I prepare creative writing ideas and resources for this every year, free to use. Years ago these appeared via Teachit but I now promote and provide through this blog.
In practical terms, now is the time to review and select resources rather than in the opening weeks of a busy and new September school year and with the event to take place on that first day of October!
This said, you might wait for a dedicated focus in the summer term, and I will be re-posting around that time too.
As a member of the Coleridge Memorial Trust and the writer/promoter of its Crowdfunder campaign for a memorial statue of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, I am compelled – for all the right reasons – to promote STC’s poem Kubla Khan as an ideal resource for this year’s theme.
As our Crowdfunder campaign is launching on the 21st March, STC looms large in my daily thinking and activity. With a NPD theme of Vision, all of the Romantic poets – especially the visionary William Blake – should be rich resources. Coleridge’s poem takes pride of place for me because of reasons just mentioned, but also for its opening inscription
Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment
At the end of this introduction, you will find free-to-download pdf resources based on Kubla Khan. My view of National Poetry Day is that it’s always about creative writing more than anything else. Not study. Reading poetry too, but not analysing it.
Final Observation [but you can go straight to the resources!]
In preparing the Coleridge Memorial Statue Crowdfunder campaign, my thoughts on fundraising at a time of austerity and widespread personal needs have wrestled with this context: statue need vs social need.
Though some CMT members may share opinions on what follows, I stress I am speaking personally here.
I can’t tackle social need as I’d like, though I had views on how a recent national election could address.
However, I can have an impact – hopefully – on the place and celebration of the Arts in our lives/communities today, this also impacted by austerity, but also the ideologies behind this and other aspects of legislated life.
My continued and active support for the Coleridge Memorial Statue is as one kind of declaration that Art and artistic thought matters, that the Romantic vision of radical thoughts and feelings can matter in a world otherwise prescriptive and narrowed, and that contemporary attacks on the Arts – especially in education – must be resisted.
Coleridge’s heritage as the legacy from a great writer and thinker matters in all of this.
In the days of Cummings, Gove & Co. making plans to revamp for a 2015 GCSE English Literature curriculum – now in dreadful, legislated existence – there was an ironic move to make the study of The Romantic Poets compulsory.
This wasn’t in support of the radical, creative, visionary and other counter-establishment elements which could be found in that Movement. This was because of a myopic/arrogant view of a ‘Golden Age’ of education, long-gone in whatever dubious value it had and now a Hirschian [E.D. Hirsch] inspired acquisition of Knowledge: these are Romantic poets – Know them [no understanding/appreciation necessary].
A colleague and I led the fight against this narrow and compulsory idea of study, and won! The only thing that was won against the English curriculum we now have.
We do know that since the introduction of the 2015 GCSE English Literature curriculum [and the whole GCSE curriculum] Arts subjects have been squeezed. Arts subjects in schools have disappeared. Take-up of A Level English has dramatically declined. As a former English teacher, this matters to me.
National Poetry Day is a brilliant annual antidote to this kind of government inspired cultural diminution.
A Samuel Taylor Coleridge memorial statue is another permanent statement in favour of celebrating art and culture and a creative heritage.