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How to celebrate National Poetry Day in London

Written by
James FitzGerald

London and poetry, poetry and London – it’s quite a harmonious couplet, you know. From Chaucer to Skepta, centuries’ worth of rhymesters have taken inspiration from our city. 

So we're pretty well-versed on what to do when National Poetry Day comes around, which it will do again on October 6. Booking is advised for many of these events, though – or else you might end up wandering lonely as a cloud (etc, etc). 

Ode to the hectic schedule 

Sarah Howe
Hayley Madden

National Poetry Day begins in earnest on October 6 when the 2016 TS Eliot Prize winner Sarah Howe gives a free poetry breakfast at 8am at the Bloomsbury Hotel. (Who knew literary types were awake this early?) The event, organised by Poet in the City, includes coffee and croissants, but you’ll definitely need to look into the (free) tickets in advance.

Stand-up stanzas 

Leicester Square Theatre

A self-styled poetry night for people who hate poetry, Bang Said the Gun at the Leicester Square Theatre tonight is akin to smuggling a vitamin tablet into a bowl of Frosties. The event unfolds so much like standup comedy that you’ll never even realise you were taking in something highbrow.

Rhyme time 

PJ Harvey
Anna van Kooij

The Southbank Centre offers an exhaustive programme of free walk-in events throughout the afternoon and evening on October 6 – including readings, an opportunity to be involved with a BBC Radio 3 broadcast, and a performance from Mercury Prize-winning artist PJ Harvey. 

A tasty mashup 

Chelsea’s Pheasantry is a Pizza Express renowned for its gigs. Its traditional Superjam on October 6 will see performers blend jazz with poetry, in a bid to prove the two art forms are to one another as mozzarella is to tomato sauce. 

Hiking for haiku 

Haiku on Foot
Silvio Regis

A monthly event
Writing haiku while you walk
This month, Clerkenwell 

Yep, Haiku on Foot is a free walking tour in which participants are encouraged to have a go at writing that distinctive variety of Japanese poetry. It's in Clerkenwell this Thursday. 

Station scansion 

Ever since its frontage was saved from demolition by Sir John Betjeman, St Pancras railway station has had an emotional attachment to poetry. On Thursday, it becomes a performance space for Landai – a type of feminine poetry written in Afghanistan. You can just turn up for this one. 

Love literature? Here are five great secondhand bookshops every Londoner should know about.

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