World Poetry Day

World Poetry day

During UNESCO’S 30th session held in Paris in 1999, a decision was made to proclaim 21 March as World Poetry Day. One of the main objectives of this day is to support the growth of linguistic diversity through poetic expression. It also offers and encourages endangered languages the platforms upon which they can be heard within their communities.

What is the Purpose of World Poetry Day?

As a deep expression of the human mind and as a universal art, poetry is a tool for dialogue and rapprochement. The dissemination of poetry helps to promote dialogue among cultures and understanding between peoples because it gives access to the authentic expression of a language.
– Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

UNESCO places great importance on poetry as means of creative expression. A way for the human mind to be laid bare and presented in ways many people can understand. Celebrating World Poetry Day on 21 March UNESCO aims to encourage the teaching of poetry as well as the return of oral traditions. It aims to restore the communication between poetry as an art form and other arts including theatre, dance, music and painting. Great emphasis is being placed on supporting small publishers as well as creating an attractive image of poetry in the media as to inspire younger generations to not see poetry as an outdated form of art but to establish it in a new and interesting way.

History of World Poetry Day

World Poetry day is believed to have its origin in the 1930’s, and is now celebrated in various countries around the world. In 1999 World Poetry Day was officially declared and designated to 21 March by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation).

The ultimate objective of World Poetry Day is to initiate a shift in society towards the recognition and appreciation of ancestral values and motivate the return to oral tradition and the acceptance of speech as a means of structuring an individual. It is meant to instil pride, and to give poetry its rightful place in society, to discard this image of disrespect towards the poet and the act of not taking poetry as an art form seriously.

How Can You Become Involved in World Poetry Day

UNESCO encourages the participation of each and every person to find a way of celebrating World Poetry Day in your community, school etc. Facilitate readings of poems from different cultures (even the cultures of those who attend your school).

The Poetry Station has video clips of poems being read and performed. There are lots of poets included, from many different cultures and backgrounds.

Set challenges for yourself, or if you are orchestrating an event, set challenges for those who will be participating. Find random subjects to write about, for example, things you would find outdoors. Be creative!!

There are multiple poetry competitions out there for you to enter. Divine Chocolate runs an annual poetry competition for aspiring poets aged from 7 upwards.
There’s a different theme every year and the deadline is towards the end of April. Further details on the Divine Chocolate website.

[box] Written by: Ryette Dempsey

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