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London's Piccadilly Lights mark National Poetry Day


London's Piccadilly Lights are being emblazoned with lines of poetry in a first for the world-famous landmark.

I Am The Song, by the late Cornish writer Charles Causley, will be flashed up today on the outdoor site, known for its giant illuminated adverts for Coca-Cola and other brands, to mark National Poetry Day.

Film-makers, digital artists and animators have created designs to showcase the poem, which features lines such as "I am the cloud that drives the storm" and "I am the song that sings the bird".

Today's National Poetry Day, now in its 18th year, is also being marked by the appointment, by the Canal And River Trust and the Poetry Society, of the first "Canal Laureate".

Jo Bell, described as a "boating poet", will be tasked with bringing "a new perspective to the nation's historic canals and rivers".

Boat-dweller Bell, a former Glastonbury Festival poet in residence, will write new verse inspired by the canals and rivers and will begin an "anthologising" of the waterways by bringing in work by other poets.

Bell, who is also an archaeologist, said: "Good poetry is about noticing. I want people who already know the canals to notice how lucky we are to have them.

"For people who haven't really noticed them yet, I want to show them the still green space on their doorstep, full of wildlife and histories."

Arts Council England chair Liz Forgan welcomed the move, saying: "From Constable's Flatford Mill to Ted Hughes's Pike, England's waterways have long provided a rich stimulus for artists working in all art forms."

Designs to show Causley's poem on a section of Piccadilly Lights next to the usual adverts, between 9am and 2pm, were created by young artists following a competition.

In 2002, Yoko Ono paid for "Imagine all the people living life in peace", from the John Lennon song Imagine, to be illuminated for three months on the site.

National Poetry Day founder William Sieghart said: "Poetry is all around us, including in advertising. The Piccadilly Lights are the most famous and eye-catching advertising site in Britain.

"It's wonderful to find that the work of young artists, and poetry in particular, will take its place there for the first time on National Poetry Day.

"Every year this day is all about discovery, finding poetry in your environment, and it's refreshing that among the advertising messages of the Piccadilly Lights passers-by will find Charles Causley's reminder of the power of human expression, a commodity that money can't buy."

:: I Am The Song by Charles Causley

I am the song that sings the bird,

I am the leaf that grows the land,

I am the tide that moves the moon,

I am the stream that halts the sand,

I am the cloud that drives the storm,

I am the earth that lights the sun,

I am the fire that strikes the stone,

I am the clay that shapes the hand,

I am the word that speaks the man.