National Poetry Day: the perfect example of using language to facilitate change
Each year, on the first Thursday in October, National Poetry Day celebrates the contribution that poetry makes in our lives. The event encourages people, particularly school pupils, to “enjoy, discover, and share” poetry, and even try their hand at writing themselves.
Montpellier senior PR account manager and resident poet, Dan Burton, explores why National Poetry Day provides a blueprint for bringing tangible changes in society and the importance of language to make this happen.
Poetry comes in a variety of forms, but what links them all is the undeniable emotion that goes into each word. Never has that familiar phrase “it’s not what you say but how you say it” been more appropriate than when discussing poetry, and in many ways, the same principle applies in PR.
As a regular poetry performer, I have met some incredible writers and the language they use in their work never fails to inspire me. The topics range from the funny to the philosophical and as anyone who has attended a poetry open mic night will testify, you cannot help but be swept along by the emotional wave.
There is a more serious side to poetry, however. It often acts as a window into worlds that we do not understand and opens our eyes to the real struggles of modern living, with the writers baring their very souls to shed light on their experiences. With the 18 months we’ve had, being united has never been so important, which is something National Poetry Day has achieved time and again.
In a similar way that many of our clients strive to be a trailblazer in their respective industries, the language used in poetry is a vehicle for raising awareness and challenging the accepted norms of society. If we take a sector such as healthcare, getting the right tone and message is imperative when communicating information about specific legislation or how a particular medical device benefits a patient, in the same way that a poet delivers lines that tug at the heartstrings.
Perhaps the main reason I love poetry is that it is completely inclusive. It’s a way of creating something completely unique, that people will remember and that will stay with them long after they’ve read or heard it. Even though I’ve been writing for more than 10 years, and performing for around three of those, I still get that nervous excitement each time I start a new piece or step up to perform and make a point to congratulate those new to the poetry arena.
Because, let’s face it, it takes a great amount of courage and self-belief to share something so personal and intrinsically linked to who we are. National Poetry Day gives people a platform to share their stories and connect with an audience hanging on their every word, regardless of age, background, where they live, or whether they have any writing experience.
This year, National Poetry Day falls on 7 October, with the theme of ‘Choice’. Schools and libraries around the country will be hosting individual events and, of course, social media will no doubt be overflowing with creativity.
Whilst poetry and PR are not necessarily things you would associate with one another, there is definitely a relationship between them, not least the ways in which they both have the potential to shape the future of our world. As former US poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Rita Dove once said: “Poetry is language at its most distilled and most powerful.”