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Natalie Merchant Preps US Orchestra Tour As UK National Poetry Day Recognizes Her "Leave Your Sleep"

Natalie Merchant 2010 sq (Mark Seliger)

Today is National Poetry Day in the UK, and in recognition of this special day, there are many different initiatives taking place all across the country, in schools, libraries, bookshops, and more. Natalie Merchant's latest album, Leave Your Sleep, which was released earlier this year on Nonesuch, has been endorsed by the organizers.

It's a fitting connection, given that Leave Your Sleep features songs adapted from poems selected by Merchant including pieces by both well-known and obscure writers. Featured are works by British Victorians, early- and mid-20th century Americans and contemporary writers as well as anonymous nursery rhymes and lullabies. Among the authors included are Ogden Nash, E.E. Cummings, Robert Louis Stevenson, Christina Rossetti, Edward Lear, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Robert Graves.

In honor of National Poetry Day, Merchant spoke to the Guardian about some of these poets, and says: "Because it's distilled to its essence, poetry is powerful, almost a sacred language." Read more at

For information on all of today's events taking place for National Poetry Day in the UK, visit


Merchant and her band are currently in full swing rehearsing for her upcoming tour of the Northeast United States, starting tomorrow. The tour, in which Merchant will perform with full symphony orchestras, kicks off at the Bardavon Theater in Poughkeepsie, New York, then heads to Cleveland; Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Morristown, New Jersey; and Lancaster, Pennsylvania; before concluding at the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware.

On Tuesday, Merchant takes an evening away from the tour to perform songs from Leave Your Sleep at a free celebration of poetry at the Great Hall of Cooper Union in New York City. The event, titled 100 Years of American Poetry, features readings from US Poets Laureate Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Daniel Hoffman, Kay Ryan, and Charles Simic, as well as Merchant's performance and a dramatic monologue of Robert Frost's "A Servant to Servants" by actress Maria Tucci.

In November, Merchant returns to New York City in New York City to perform at the TimesCenter and join New York Times chief pop music critic Jon Pareles for a one-on-one conversation.

For more tour information, visit


To pick up a copy of Leave Your Sleep, with the complete album included as high-quality, 320 kbps MP3s at checkout, head to the Nonesuch Store.


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