I can’t help thinking of Shakespeare as a poet first and a playwright second. I know we all of us want Shakespeare to do both equally well, but I think first and foremost his mind and imagination were alive with poetic and rhetorical possibilities. The first time he breaks into print is with the long and erotic poem Venus and Adonis in 1593. It was the most successful of all his publications during his lifetime. When plays are performed I am captivated by dramatic action and story-telling: the spectacle, the crises and the emotion. It’s rare, I think, for us properly to hear a live performance in the way we suppose people did in Shakespeare’s own time. So how can we best appreciate the power of his poetry? Well, audio recordings can help, and the very best live performances will bring us close to the sound and feeling of Shakespeare’s poetry. As I write, I’ve just put the finishing touches to the 57th The Stratford-upon-Avon Poetry Festival (14 July to 1 August), an opportunity for us to celebrate poetry in the town of the greatest poet of them all. Why not watch the video and let me know what you think?