Press Release: 5 October 2006































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































































National Poetry Day Thursday 5 October 2006 -'Identity'

"Nothing matters more than who we are in the world, where we have been and where we are going. The issue of identity is at the heart of our society and involves everyone." Jackie Kay

This year's National Poetry Day theme, 'Identity', invites us to explore through poetry one of the crucial issues and talking points in today's culture. What is identity? How do we develop it? How do we define it? How are we defined by it?

The Poetry Society hopes the theme will generate discussions, events and activities all around the UK that look at the notions of personal, community and national identity and discover the contribution poetry makes to our sense of self.

Poet Jackie Kay is an experienced voice on the issues of identity. She was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father and was adopted by a white couple at birth and brought up in Glasgow. She now lives in Manchester. In the run up to National Poetry Day she will be the Poetry Society's 'virtual' poet in residence, providing a regular online diary of her thoughts on identity as well as highlighting some of the more inspiring events and activities taking place.

For many poets the issue of identity is a serious one and often informs their poetry either as points of reference or as ways of expressing themselves. To explore this further the Poetry Society will present a pre-National Poetry Day event at St Giles Church. Poems of Identity in a Changing World with Simon Armitage, Moniza Alvi, Jackie Kay and Nick Laird on 28 September will look at how where we are from informs who we are. The host for this event is Joan Bakewell.

On National Poetry Day itself the Poetry Café is running an afternoon anthology of all that is best at the café's regular events, under the title Identity Parade. From 3-6pm you can hear poets and writers ranging from Mir Mahfuz Ali and Tim Turnbull to young winners of this year's Rise Londonwide Youth Slam Championship and the bill will be topped off by Jackie Kay. Hosts Nii Ayikwei Parkes and John Hegley will introduce the readers and intersperse them with John's inimitable songs.

Later in the day there will be an opportunity to look at some of the historical poetry identities whose work has helped shape British poetry today. Westminster Abbey presents, in association with the Poetry Society, Poetry from Poets Corner, a reading with Andrew Motion, Juliet Stevenson and Donald Sinden. Andrew Motion will read from his own work and guide the audience through an evening where the poets' art meets the actors' craft.

National Poetry Day this year also has its own website where you can find out more about the Poetry Society and other National Poetry Day events in your area, read Jackie Kay's blog, find the best poems to read on identity from our 'Identity' poetry bookshelf and - very importantly - let us know what you are doing.


Notes to Editors

  • To find out more about National Poetry Day 2006 and what's happening around the country visit
  • Poems of Identity in a Changing World , a pre- National Poetry Day event on 28 September, will be at St Giles-in-the-Fields Church, 60 St Giles High Street, London WC2H 8LG. Tickets cost £10 (£5 concessions). Groups of 8 or more persons can take advantage of a special offer. Buy seven and get one free! To book tickets call 0207 420 9895.
  • The Identity Parade is on National Poetry Day (Thursday 5 October) fron 3-6pm at the Poetry Café, 22 Betterton Street, London WC2H 9BX. To find out more telephone 020 7420 9887 or email [email protected]
  • Poetry from Poets Corner is on National Poetry Day (Thursday 5 Ocober ) at 6.30pm Westminster Abbey, London SW1P 3PA. To book Tickets visit, telephone 020 7654 4823 or email [email protected]. Tickets cost £10. To find out more about this event or to arrange an interview with Andrew Motion or any of the actors taking part please contact Duncan Jeffery or Jen Stebbing at Westminster Abbey on 020 7654 4888/90 or [email protected]

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