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Celebrating National Poetry Day

By - 26 September 2020 - 11:18am

Thursday 1 October is National Poetry Day and we'll be celebrating with activities both online and in the community

Derby Book Festival’s Shared Reading programme will celebrate the joy that poetry brings to our lives. Nationally, there has been a rise in enthusiasm for poetry, particularly online, over the lockdown period.

The Shared Reading programme aims to increase well-being by connecting people in group settings to share, listen and talk about poems, short stories and novels. The interactive sessions are mainly led by volunteers and enable members to share and discuss personal responses to what is being read. Pre-Lockdown, groups were held in a variety of settings including Extra Care Housing, the YMCA, St James’ Centre, Derby College and the Riverside Library.

Shared Reading Co-ordinator, Jo Wright-Symonds explained: “Throughout lockdown our Shared Reading volunteers have been innovative in finding new ways to keep in touch with their group members, many of whom may have become particularly isolated during lockdown through having to shield and with group activities being forced to stop.

“Whilst the groups have been unable to meet physically, the programme has continued through Zoom meetings and other initiatives, including sending out 1300 individual Poetry Postcards, weekly newsletters, displaying PopUp Poems in shop windows, park noticeboards, railings and in local libraries, recording Shared Reading videos and the volunteers have been compiling weekly themed poem anthologies, which will be a valuable resource in the future.”

They are keen to continue to send out Poetry Postcards in the coming months and have also supported Age UK with their ‘Letter Friend’ project.

On National Poetry Day activities will include:

  • a downloadable poetry quiz (uploading on 1 October at 9am)
  • the display of more PopUpPoems across shops, arts venues, libraries, houses, fences and gardens
  • encouraging people to pass on a poem on a postcard
  • poetry reading performances across the city (subject to Covid guidelines) – see photo opportunity below
  • creating an anthology of poems based on the National Poetry Day theme of ‘Vision.’

Lyndsey Ramsden, one of our two Shared Reading Co-ordinators, says: “People of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from Shared Reading. It creates a safe, supportive and relaxed environment which fosters a sense of well-being, enjoyment and connectedness. This can lead to improved confidence, reduced social isolation and stronger more supportive communities.”

Established four years ago, last year the Shared Reading programme successfully secured funding for three years from the National Lottery Community Fund to expand groups across Derby and Derbyshire.

To find out more about Shared Reading, how to become a volunteer, enquire about setting up a new group or arrange for someone to receive a Poetry Postcard or a PopUp Poem to display, email:

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