Despite having lived in Denmark for almost a year, I still feel like I’m straddling the North Sea: my feet are on Scandinavian ground, but my head and heart are still firmly in the U.K. This confused state of existence, encouraged by the way that social media shrinks space and enables connection, naturally led me to pay attention to National Poetry Day on Thursday 6th October.
Days dedicated to literary genres are certainly a positive incentive. They bring the written word into the public eye, celebrate and disseminate it through events, readings and, of course, the obligatory hashtags and shares. Upon returning to my office and discovering that it was National Poetry Day, I whipped through the Norton Anthologies that I use for teaching and found some my favourites: Mina Loy, William Carlos Williams, Gertrude Stein, e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson. I read, I tweeted, was re-tweeted.
Later that evening, after reading some glorious Sappho with a friend over the phone, I finally got around to reading the collection Guld (Gold) by young Danish poet Victor Boy Lindholm.
Reading Danish verse on a day of poetic celebration back home allowed my two cultural spheres to fuse. In encouraging me to pick up this collection, read aloud and listen to the swing and lilt of a language that is gradually becoming less alien, National Poetry Day actually helped me to achieve something worthwhile.
I ended the evening thinking about how all that poetry-induced social media activity was sort of superficial and indulgent. We snap pics of poems, post them, forget about it all by the next morning: there’ll be another day of dedication soon enough. If we’re going to have these days celebrating literature and the arts, they should ignite ongoing action, engagement and appreciation on ordinary days, too.