National Poetry Day: Rhiya Pau Visit

6 October 2023


As part of the library’s celebration of National Poetry Day, Rhiya Pau ONL spoke to Year 9 and Sixth Formers studying English. The theme of this year’s National Poetry Day is Refuge.

Winner of the Platinum award at the 2021 Creative Futures Writers’ Awards, Rhiya’s debut collection, Routes, published in 2022, won a Society of Authors Eric Gregory Award. Routes commemorates 50 years since Rhiya’s family migrated to the UK.

Her work touches on the themes of home, belonging, community and migration and poses one central question: what is worth holding onto? Routes is also a biography of Rhiya’s grandfather: a freedom fighter granted an MBE and a community leader with a very sweet tooth. One of the discussions afterwards was about Rhiya’s favourite sweet.

“It was very inspirational and moving. The poems were very deep and resonated well with me.” – Pia, NLCS student

Rhiya spoke about the time she had spent in the NLCS library, writing fantasy stories with multiple realities. After a friend pointed out that multiverses are a possibility in physics, she started to study the physics books. This led to her reading Physics and Philosophy at the University of Oxford.

There was a surprise for Rhiya in the form of a poem she had entered for the National Poetry Competition run by the Library in 2004 and a poem, article about global warming and artwork that she produced for a school magazine in 2009. These were found in the school archive. Rhiya not only remembered them but was sporting enough to read aloud her Year 7 poem about Halloween.

NLCS student Tvish thanked Rhiya for her performance on behalf of the students. Copies of Rhiya’s debut collection Routes were available for purchase.

“It was emotional, and it touched me. The experiences shared help me learn more about different cultures.” – Doris, NLCS student