National Poetry Day

It’s National Poetry Day ( Here are ten poets who have meant something in my life. Who would be on your list? Feel free to share @GavinSherriff1

Ted Hughes


At school I spent several weeks staring blankly at a book of Hughes’ poetry until one of my English teachers managed to show me that there was much hidden beneath the surface. Until this point, I think I’d been convinced that poetry had to rhyme. I never looked at the natural world the same again after reading Crow 

Sylvia Plath


Plath’s book Ariel seems to have opened my teenage son’s eyes to the joys of poetry. Asked for his favourite work, he recommended `The Moon and the Yew Tree’. `It’s really good’. High praise, I promise you.

Spike Milligan


Milligan’s book `Silly Verse for Kids’   was a present from my next door neighbour when I was at primary school. As the local librarian, she knew a thing or two about books, and she knew this would appeal to me. Silly, rude, irreverent, and very funny. I can still recite lines from it today.



I was introduced to Wordsworth at school, but his work didn’t really seem relevant to my suburban childhood. Then there was that whole `I wandered lonely as a cloud’ cliché.  However, as an adult I felt in love with the Lake District. Read his poetry there and it seems as fresh as it must have been when he wrote it. If you can’t get to the Lakes, just go and read Wordsworth in the open air. The collected poems of William Wordsworth

Robert Burns


Every Burns Night and St Andrews Day my father, a proud Scot living in the south of England, would remind himself of his homeland by reciting Burn’s `Address to the Haggis’ Each year I would fathom out a little more of what it all meant. The Complete Songs and Poems of Robert Burns

Siegfried Sassoon


For Sassoon read Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen or any of the First World War poets. Even at the distance of a hundred years their words remain powerful, bearing testimony to the grinding futility and random brutality of war. They’re as powerful as any modern fly on the wall documentary about warfare. Penguin Book of First World War Poetry

Roger McGough


I’m probably misremembering this, but it seems as though he was on the telly almost weekly during my childhood. At the time, I don’t think I even realised he was a poet. To me, he was just a man who told entertaining stories on the TV. Through adult eyes, he’s much more than that. Roger McGough: Collected Poems

Pam Ayres


I know what you are thinking, but my mother loved her work, and like several other choices, she was frequently on the telly in my childhood ( I did go to the library occasionally, I promise).  Pam Ayres: The Works 

WH Auden

My mother and grandfather worked for a company building railway locomotives, but Auden’s poem `The Night Mail’ helped establish a lifelong interest in railways. Something that even years of commuting failed to destroy. It’s a reminder of a bygone age when the railways conjured up romantic images of long distance travel, not leaves on the line outside Waterloo. Watch here and you’ll see what I mean. It feels like you are there.



When asked to recite some poetry, my wife inevitably launches into Kipling, so for that reason alone he had to be on this list. Collected Poems of Rudyard Kipling

It’s a very personal list. What would be top of yours?

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