A national online campaign launched by author and broadcaster Gyles Brandreth to bring young and old together to share the joy of poems has been boosted by a Royal recital.
The Duchess of Cornwall, a strong advocate of the benefits of poetry and literature, recorded WH Auden’s Night Mail which was posted online using #PoetryTogether2020 on National Poetry Day (1 October).
Celebrity Gogglebox and BBC Just a Minute star Gyles explained: “I love poetry and, during lockdown, I recited a poem a day on social media for 150 days to spread the joy of poetry.
“#PoetryTogether2020 encourages school pupils and older people to connect virtually by learning and reciting poems, then sharing their recordings.”
In 2019, Gyles launched Poetry Together to bring school groups and care home residents together to recite poems over tea and cake. However, with the coronavirus pandemic putting a stop to meeting up, the new campaign encourages them to share their love of verse over an online video platform.
“Last year hundreds of schools and care homes signed up to hold poetry tea parties,” explained Gyles. “2020 is a bit different, so our poetry parties will be a bit different, too, but the aim is still to have fun. This year, we ask schools and care homes to connect virtually.”
Taking part is simple and free. Schools or care homes sign up via www.poetrytogether.com and receive a digital pack. Individuals or groups from the schools and care homes choose a poem, learn it by heart, and record their performance. Then they share their recordings with their poetry partner or get together online to perform.
Finally, they share their recording on social media to spread joy across their communities using #PoetryTogether2020. Every participant receives a certificate – and some performers will be invited to join Gyles at a special, celebratory tea party in 2021, once coronavirus restrictions allow.
The inaugural Poetry Together in 2019, backed by Dukes Education, also attracted the support of HRH The Duchess of Cornwall, who attended a tea party and recited one of her favourite poems, Matilda by Hilaire Belloc.
Founder and Chairman of Dukes Education, Atif Hassan, said: “For young people, learning and reciting poems boosts their confidence, speech, memory and attention; for the elderly it can improve brain capacity and reduce memory loss. We hope #PoetryTogether2020 will also help to spread a little joy at the end of such a difficult year.”
For more information, see www.poetrytogether.com, @poetry_together (Instagram and Twitter) and @poetrytogetherproject (Facebook).