Today is ‘World Poetry Day’ a date declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) in 1999. The purpose of the day is to promote the reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.
In my experience people seem to either love poetry or have no regard for it. Echoes of forced learning of difficult, old-fashioned poems for school English lessons are enough to make some shudder with the memory. As for me – well, I have always loved poetry, whether reading or writing it, or even reciting poems, in English, Welsh or French, up there on the old school stage in the eisteddfodau, many decades ago. I frequently borrow poetry collections from the library and read them avidly in quiet, introspective moments. They make me laugh, they make me cry, they make me sad, angry, joyful. And that’s the purpose of a poem isn’t it, to raise emotion in the reader, to evoke a reaction to the words. For the writer, there will have been an outpouring of expression, points made, all done in complete freedom, with no creative censorship.
Today I will be revisiting some of my favourite poems, from the Collected Poems of famous Welsh poets Dylan Thomas, R. S. Thomas and Gillian Clarke. And putting some finishing touches to some of my own, inspired by the above poets’ fine words, phrasings and language of beauty.
I love the message UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova has posted today, it says everything about why World Poetry Day should be a cause for celebration.
Ms Irina Bokova,
Director-General of UNESCO,
on the occasion of World Poetry Day
21 March 2013
‘Poetry is one of the purest expressions of linguistic freedom. It is a component of
the identity of peoples and it embodies the creative energy of culture, for it can be
This power of poetry is transmitted from generation to generation, in the hallowed
texts of great authors and in the works of anonymous poets. We are duty bound to
transmit this heritage – the legacy of Homer, Li Bai, Tagore, Senghor and countless
others – for it bears living witness to the cultural diversity of humanity. We, in turn,
must tend it to bear fruit, as a source of linguistic wealth and dialogue.
In celebrating World Poetry Day, UNESCO wishes also to promote the values that
poetry conveys, for poetry is a journey – not in a dream world, but often close to
individual emotions, aspirations and hopes. Poetry gives form to the dreams of
peoples and expresses their spirituality in the strongest terms– it emboldens all of
us also to change the world.
Poets in all countries have bequeathed timeless verses in defence of human rights,
gender equality and respect for cultural identities. Paul Eluard wrote “freedom … I
write thy name”. To this day, poetry brings the winds of freedom and dignity in the
struggle against violence and oppression. For all of these reasons, UNESCO
supports poets and everyone who publishes, translates, prints or disseminates
poetry. It does so by protecting the diversity of cultural expressions and by
preserving poetry recitals listed as intangible cultural heritage of humanity, as so
many ways to embellish the world and construct the defences of peace in the minds
of men and women.’
Well said, Irina Bokova and who am I to disagree?
READ A POEM TODAY, AND TRY WRITING ONE -UNLEASH YOUR CREATIVITY!