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Poem of the North

Fifty years of the Northern Poetry Library


Set your compass…

The Northern Poetry Library, based in Morpeth, Northumberland, is the largest collection of post-World War II poetry in England outside London, home to constellations of finely-tuned, often moving and sometimes unnerving words.

2018 is the 50th anniversary of the Library. Established in 1968, its aim was to acquire and make available all contemporary poetry in English published in Great Britain – a free, open-access resource. In total, the collection numbers more than 15,000 volumes.

…to the Poem of the North

To celebrate 50 years of this regional treasure, we present a living, growing artwork-in-progress. The Poem of the North will bring together the work of the fifty selected poets, in five cantos, published over a period of six months. By the end of 2018, the completed poem will stand as a celebratory artefact: a tribute to the region and acknowledgement of the North’s rich seam of writers and written culture.

You can read the poem, as it grows, on this website – so be sure to add to your favourites. We’ll be sharing as the Poem progresses on Instagram (northernpoetrylibrary) – and Twitter (nplpoetry), and you’ll get the heads up as new poems appear and the Poem of the North grows. To track the evolution of Poem of the North, we invite you to sign up to The Black Dot, the Northern Poetry Library newsletter, for monthly updates.

A new poetic form: the 821

Poem of the North is a creative approach to poetry publishing in the digital age, featuring poems written specially for the project in a brand-new poetic form on the theme of “North”. The 821 is an 11-line, 3-stanza poem created in 2018 to mark the 50th anniversary of the Northern Poetry Library. Two main concepts inform the 821. Firstly, 821 is the number assigned to English poetry in the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. Secondly, 821 utilises the “volta”, a concept traditionally associated with sonnets, and is used to create a subtly interconnected series of stanzas that turn, or riff off one another.

Poetry prizes

Selected poems will be published in a creative digital format as part of a growing Poem of the North. Every month, ten selected poems will complete a Canto. Thanks to the generous support of the Poetry Book Society, five selected poets, one from each canto,  will win full PBS Membership. Each quarter, winners will receive:

* PBS Bulletin Magazine
* PBS Choice Book
* 25% discount on all poetry book orders