UK National Poetry Day

3 October is National Poetry Day

It's theme: Water, water everywhere

National Poetry Day was founded in 1994 by Forward Poetry Prizes founder William Sieghart as an annual day of celebration of verse on the first Thursday of October. Since then it has become part of the cultural calendar and is partnered with the UK's Poetry Society. Events, happenings, workshops, readings, etc, etc, take place all over the UK in schools, pubs, arts centres, bookshops, libraries, buses, trains, Women’s Institutes, on the radio and TV, in the newspapers and press, and last but not least, online. The Forward Arts Foundation now administers both National Poetry Day and the Forward Poetry Prizes.

For listings of events in the UK, click here and here

Among the more eye-catching events taking place on 3 October:

From Gilgamesh to Beowulf – 5,000 years of epic in five hours with poets Jane Draycott and Jenny Lewis in a Poetry Writing Workshop at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.  For all details click here

Water, water everywhere Poetry Marathon at Wordsworth's Cottage in the Lake District
Dove Cottage, Grasmere, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9SH

Water, water everywhere – come and join our poetry marathon as we aim to read more than 100 water-based poems in 4 hours.
All day event: 11-3pm. Not bookable, but do come along.

Banipal supports National Poetry Day
with a few selections of poetry from recent issues of the magazine
• Also a 25% discount off our two poetry books Knife Sharpener by Sargon Boulus and Shepherd of Solitude by Amjad Nasser

From Banipal 46 – 80 New Poems

Khaled Najar


After Pablo Neruda


Are birds born out of the sea

or do they bloom out of the rocks of Guatemala’s mountains?


And the butterflies

do they arise out of night’s latest hour

or do the winds of September give birth to them?


Do they emerge

out of the Sporades Islands in spring

or from a poem by Georg Trakl?


And the steamers, are they, too, bred in seawater

or do they arise from the poetry of Saint-John Perse?


How many horses are neighing

on the steppes of Asia?


And do church bells

gleam with redundant silver?


And is it true that the sparrows of Amsterdam

sing Jacques Brel’s songs in their sparrow tongue?


How many seeds do the winds of Provence carry

when they blow on Marseille?


And this rabbit

did he just come up through the rain

with all this gold?


And where are they now, those who dream of sparrows swimming in the sea

and fish flying over church roofs

and the rabbit who comes visiting from Cairo?

Did they now, or have they ever lived, in Arles

or were they a dream of another dream?


Translated by Khaled Mattawa
To go to Banipal 46 – 80 New Poems click here


From Banipal 45 – Writers from Palestine


Basem el-Nabres



Calm is a Gaza night.


Darkness lodges, like liquid, over the houses;

darkness from an overcoming . . .

and . . . from a silence.


A calm,

oh Lord, help them!

Those who nod off after filling their belly

and those who nod off without,


help them in their night,

even when it was

quieter than a corpse.


Help them,

you know how, with a calmness that eludes


I know . . .

what is within . . .

of undying hurt.


Translated by John Peate
Banipal 45 – Writers from Palestine
click here


From Banipal 42 – New Writing from the Emirates

Remembering Ahmed Rashid Thani


Ahmed Rashid Thani

The first four stanzas from



The Trap is a bar in the Dana Hotel. It sits on the mezzanine level and is reached by a spiral staircase. Betty is a long-serving barmaid.



I head down to the street.

Thursday afternoon:

Life, so it seems, is still alive,

the sun fixed on the body of the earth

ravaging the body of the earth.

The sea, luckily, is still open, there,

behind the buildings at the end of the street . . .



Behind the buildings,

at the end of the street, the sea sprawls

cleansing its curving body

from the dross of the waves

exuding ravenous tiny creatures

from its night-time folds.

When it sees the city

sees me walking the city

it grudgingly says hello to me, and the city . . .



Peace upon you, Sea

I’m not from this city.

I’m from a village you know well,

the son of a fisherman your gulls

know well.

On the sand left by your waves

I beachcombed my first song

and hooked the first star in my life

when I learned how to swim in your looking-glass.



Sea, in your looking-glass

coiled threads of my blood.

By your name

– my childhood mountains chanted it

I set sails of optimism

– your gales shredded them like paper

I set my soul

– your eyes buried it underwater

I set this nothingness.


Translated by Raphael Cohen

To go to Banipal 42 – New Writing from the Emirates, click here



From Banipal 39 – Tunisian Literature


Adam Fethi



I told her: “I love you.

Tell no one.”


She couldn’t help herself

She went to the sea

sank her head in

and said: “He loves me”


The sea said:

“Me too”


Since then I am alone.


Translated by Camilo Gomez-Rivas
To go to Banipal 39 – Tunisian Literature, click here



From Banipal 37 – Iraqi Authors


Ahmed Abdel Hussain



Al-Andulus Square1



I contradict.

My evidence leads me to ruin.


when I uncovered my brother’s coffin,

I saw eternity: a wad of banknotes on a burnt face.


“Have you seen eternity?”

“I saw a boat deceived in the storm.

I saw a forgotten fire blazing at the brink of dawn.”

“Have you seen the father battling with meaning in a prayer addressed to no one?”

“Have you seen the mother?

An abaya tugged since dawn in grief2 over blond blood pouring down the doorstep.

Have you seen me guarding boxes of weapons without knowing why?

Have you seen Kawthar3 shed her beliefs on the sewing machine, which scatter to tie her veil?


Have you seen Abdul Raheem4,

a black fountain overflowing in a white Quran?”


This is our evidence that led us to ruin.

This is our great disappearance, its bones led us to conflicting interpretations.

This is eternity:


We’re crammed together on a voiceless patch of land and talk of resurrection,

of foggy gardens carving their way into funereal finery,

of the mouth which strays apart so it can say:

I am.


I am the triangular arrow that missed us all and lodged itself in your guts.

I am the ring5 that slipped from your slim little finger.

I am a candlestick that is grappling with the power of darkness in you,

in your many holes.



1 Al-Andalus Square: a famous square in the heart of Baghdad, location of both the Iraqi Writers’ Union and the former Directorate of General Security, the latter representing for Iraqis the horrors of previous regimes;
2 A tradition, especially from the south of the country among those who wear abayas, of women expressing grief at losing their beloved by tugging at their abayas as if dancing hysterically;
3 The poet’s niece;
4 The poet’s brother;
5 When enemies killed Imam Hussein, they stole his clothes and one stole his silver ring, cutting it from his little finger.


Translated by Khalida Hamid & Tristan Cranfield
To go to Banipal 37 – Iraqi Authors click here



From Banipal 36 – Literature in Yemen Today


Nabila Al-Zubair




I will assume I am your beloved (just an assumption)

You will say to me: Oh, my beloved (just a word)

We will go together for a picnic

in the valley

We will shut our eyes

and the flood will sweep us away

At the end of the day, we will have grown tired

we will open our eyes, shocked

why didn’t it happen?


Translated by Khaled Al-Masri
To go to Banipal 37 – Literature in Yemen Today click here





Published Date - 03/10/2013