Poets who read at National Poetry Day Live: Selima Hill, Lemn Sissay, Roger McGough, Joelle Taylor, John Hegley and Carol Ann Duffy

National Poetry Day: 'Water, water everywhere'

‘Water’ is the subject of this year’s National Poetry Day, Thursday 3 October, inspired by Coleridge’s mariner’s famous cry: “Water, water, everywhere”. This year, bringing liquid refreshment to all parts of the UK, there will be poetry readings, launches, prizes, performances and happenings. See also www.national poetryday.co.uk

National Poetry Day Live

Be carried along on a wave of words as the Poetry Society and Southbank Centre, London, present National Poetry Day Live from the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall. Join us for a wonderful water-filled afternoon including readings from poets including Simon Armitage, Patience Agbabi, Hannah Lowe, David Morley and John Wedgwood Clarke. Several new Poetry Society commissions will also premiere at National Poetry Day Live: a new film-poem by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski explores water's most transient states; while poets including Liz Berry and Ian McMillan have travelled the nation's canal network with film-maker Alastair Cook. The day will end with a special reading of sea poems by Simon Armitage and friends, relayed to the Clore Ballroom from A Room for London, the boat on top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, at 7pm.

Compered by John Hegley and Joelle Taylor, National Poetry Day Live is a free event organised by the Poetry Society in collaboration with Southbank Centre, London.

If you can't make it to National Poetry Day Live, you can watch Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski's film-poem Evaporations and the four canal poems online.


Museum of Water at National Poetry Day Live

Amy Sharrocks’s Museum of Water visits this year’s National Poetry Day Live. Museum of Water is a collection of publicly donated water and accompanying stories, an encouragement to consider the many ways in which we access and enjoy water; paddling in the sea, splashing in puddles, drinking from taps. Accumulating over two years in different sites worldwide, Museum of Water is an invitation to ponder our precious liquid and how we use it.

Choose some water that is meaningful to you. Find a bottle to put it in. Tell us why you chose this water. We will keep it for you.

From 12-6pm on 3 October on the Clore Ballroom of the Royal Festival Hall, you can make your own donation to the museum, see some of the existing collection and raise a glass at a free pop-up bar serving only tap water.

How to donate your own water


Canal poetry

Pen a watery poem about your local canal for Waterlines, a collaboration between the Canal & River Trust and the Poetry Society, helping you to discover new poetry inspired by our waterways. Send poems to writingonwater@poetrysociety.org.uk to have a chance to feature on the Waterlines site.

And don’t miss poets reading canal-inspired poems at Poetry Society events on 6 and 12 October at the Birmingham Literature Festival.

Water poetry teacher resources

Looking for teaching resources? We have new teaching resources to accompany the film-poem by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski which has been commissioned for National Poetry Day 2013.

  • Evaporations by Alice Oswald and Chana Dubinski (KS1,2,3 and 4)

We also have a number of teaching resources you can use to plan your National Poetry Day activity:

Nominate your favourite water poem

Have you got a favourite poem about water? Tweet us @PoetrySociety using #H2Opoem and we'll start compiling a reading list.

About National Poetry Day

Since 1994 National Poetry Day has engaged millions of people with poetry through a range of live events and web-based activities for people young and old throughout the country. Each year the day has a new theme. You can find out more about previous National Poetry Days and the Poetry Society's involvement by looking at our National Poetry Day history pages.

The Poetry Society always celebrates National Poetry Day with exciting events, though we're not the official organisers.

More Information

Various Poetry Society competitions take place on or around, or have celebrations linked to, National Poetry Day. The Stanza Poetry Competition winner is announced on National Poetry Day, as are the winners of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award. The National Poetry Competition closes at the end of October, giving poets inspired by the day time to pen their poems and enter. 

The Poetry Society runs an extensive education programme of education work: Poetryclass INSET days, school membership packages (for individual schools and networks) and the SLAMbassadors UK nationwide youth slam championship. To find out more about the education work that we offer or to organise a poet visit, please see our education pages. Alternatively you can contact our education team.