In 2017, the National Poetry Library’s Open Day took inspiration from part of Ted Hughes’s speech at the inaugural Poetry International festival in 1967.
Can poetry be a universal language? Can poems unite people across borders? Is the hope that Hughes had in poetry as a political force still valid?
The open day, held on 17 October 2017, featured themed displays exploring these questions and looking at the relationship between sustainability and poetry, eco poetry and poetry that uses signs and code instead of words. There was also a focus on other festivals and movements in poetry from 1967, including the Brighton Poetry Festival.
As the world's languages disappear at the rate of one every two weeks, the National Poetry Library presented poets writing in endangered languages at the heart of these displays. There was also archival material from previous Poetry International festivals, including an audio recording of Allen Ginsberg and Basil Bunting reading as part of the 1973 festival at Southbank Centre.
As part of the open day poets Victoria Adukwei Bulley and Hannah Silva presented work commissioned especially for the occasion.