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Remember: Thursday Is Poetry Day

On Thursday, October 2, readers and writers across the UK will celebrate National Poetry Day, a public celebration of poetry with live events, classroom activities, and broadcasts, as well as  performances in “streets, squares, supermarkets, parks, train stations, bus-stops and post-boxes.” In 2013, for example, Prince Charles performed Dylan Thomas’ “Fern Hill.”

The theme for 2014 is “Remember”:

Whether it’s Thomas Hood or Philip Larkin’s ‘I Remember, I Remember’; the centenary of the First World War; or the national Poetry by Heart recitation competition; memory is an important part of poetry.

Cambridge University will launch the Poetry and Memory Project on National Poetry Day with hopes of logging the “national memory for poetry.” The research will shed light on how people remember: it might even help people who are losing their memories by explaining why the human brain hangs on to some things learned in childhood (“I wandered lonely as a cloud…”) when it can’t remember as far back as breakfast. This interdisciplinary project will investigate experiences of poetry learning, and examine the relationships between memorization, recitation, and understanding.

Poetry memorization and recitation were once inscribed in British education and woven into the fabric of cultural life, but have declined dramatically in recent years. Although there are signs of reviving interest in these practices and of their reinstatement on the curriculum, there is almost no research on their effects, or on how they might best be embedded within pedagogy. Findings will be relevant for pedagogical policy and practice, and contribute to wider discourses about cultural identity and locations of knowledge.

What poem(s) do you remember? On Thursday, October 2, use hashtag #thinkofapoem, and follow all the happenings live at #NPDlive.

For more information about National Poetry Day, track #nationalpoetryday or visit