National Poetry Day 2016 ~ Poems of Sailors and Seafarers

The 6th October marks National Poetry Day and we wanted to celebrate by sharing with you some poems of sailors and seafarers. The sea has always been an attractive setting and symbol in literature, its presence in poetry ranges from ancient beginnings; Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, to the present day.

Sailboat in rough seas, St. Lucia, Carribean

Prince Charles highlighted the importance of shipping in poetry by launching National Poetry Day with Seamus Heaney’s poem ‘The Shipping Forecast’.

National Poetry Day

His recording of the poem was broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today earlier this morning as part of the annual nationwide poetry celebration.

If you missed it you can listen here:

“A poem can reach places that prose just can’t” – Susannah Herbert , National Poetry Day director

The theme for National Poetry Day 2016 is ‘Messages’ and Susannah Herbert is encouraging the public to “say it with a poem”.

You can also get involved on Twitter with the hashtag #NationalPoetryDay


Other events to be aware of on National Poetry Day 2016 in the UK:

  • The Royal Mail are using a special postmark on millions of items today
  • Poems by young refugees and migrants will replace the short video introductions that appear before each programme on Channel 4
  • 40 BBC local radio stations have engaged poets to celebrate England’s best-loved local landmarks in verse
  • In London, Poetry tickets will be distributed to passengers at St Pancras International station
  • In London, The Poetry Society will announce the top 15 winners and 85 commended poets of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2016 at the Festival Hall
  • In London, Singer PJ Harvey will collaborate with young poetry producers at the Southbank Centre.
  • In Wales, four young poets are being locked away to compose 100 poems in 24 hours
  • In Scotland, 380,000 poetry postcards have been given away by the Scottish Poetry Library in Edinburgh.
  • In Glasgow, poets, librarians and Big Issue street vendors will give poetry readings around the city.
  • In Northern Ireland, the finals of the Ireland National Poetry competition will be held at the Parliament Buildings in Stormont.


Essential Reading

Other classic English sea poems well worth a read today:

Alfred, Lord Tennyson – The Sailor Boy

Christina Rossetti – A Ballad of Boding

D.H. Laurence – The Mystic Blue

Ezra Pound – The Seafarer

Robert Louis Stevenson – Christmas at Sea

Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Thomas Hardy – The Convergence of the Twain

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