Preview: Poetry From Poets' Corner, Westminster Abbey, London

Poetry brought to life among buried bards
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The Independent Culture

Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, will compere an evening of poetry readings for National Poetry Day (5 October) in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey, read by actors Sir Donald Sinden and Patricia Routledge.

They will choose poems from some of the 120 poets and writers who are buried or commemorated in Poets' Corner, in the Abbey's South Transept. "You have to take careful advice from the people who preach there about the speed at which you read because it is such an enormous space," says Motion. "The bodies that fill it up do mop up some of the echo."

Motion, who was appointed as Poet Laureate in May 1999, will read some of his own poetry, including some new poems about his recently deceased father. "It is wonderful to read in Westminster Abbey because the place is so atmospheric and beautiful, and liable to make people concentrate," he says.

There will be a series of celebrations across the country, organised in association with the Poetry Society for the day. "I wish National Poetry Day lasted all year," says Motion. "It creates opportunities for people to enjoy and celebrate poetry. There is a question mark in my mind about whether it then lets some of these people feel they are let off doing anything about poetry for the rest of the year. My sincere hope is that whatever they do organise is so pleasurable that it makes them feel that they could do more for poetry throughout the year."

Now in its 13th year, National Poetry Day will explore the theme of Identity this year. In Poems of Identity in a Changing World, hosted by Joan Bakewell at St Giles Church, London (Thursday), the poets Simon Armitage, Jackie Kay, Moniza Alvi and Nick Laird look at how identity informs their work. There are more poetry readings at London's Poetry Café (5 October), hosted by John Hegley.

Poetry from Poets' Corner, as part of National Poetry Day 2006, is at Westminster Abbey, London SW1 on Thursday 5 October at 6.30pm. Tickets, £10 (020-7654 4823). www.nationalpoetryday.org.uk

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