World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day Quick Facts - EU

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2024 Date21 March 2024
2025 Date21 March 2025

World Poetry Day

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World Poetry Day History

World Poetry Day aims to stimulate people around the world to appreciate poetry as a form of artistic expression that captures and interprets human feelings, thoughts and identities. It encourages the reading, writing, and teaching of poetry, particularly in schools and various social groups, and promotes the linguistic diversity through poems.

Historically, World Poetry Day was adopted by UNESCO during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999. For the European Union, this observance is of significant importance due to the region's rich literary history infused with a wide array of languages. In an area famed for its incredible literary figures like Dante Alighieri, William Shakespeare, Rainer Maria Rilke and many more, this observance is a fitting tribute to the existing poetry tradition and serves as motivation for future poets.

Across the European Union, World Poetry Day is celebrated in various ways. This might involve poetry readings and performances, thematic exhibitions and workshops in schools and libraries, radio, television and online broadcasts of poetry recitals, and the publication of poetry collections. It provides a platform for young, emerging, and established poets to share their work in their native languages and dialects thus promoting local cultures and traditions. World Poetry Day is annually on the 21st of March.

Facts about World Poetry Day

  • The oldest love poem in the world was written on a clay tablet during the Sumerian times, which was around 3500 BC.
  • William Shakespeare is most often praised for his work as a playwright however he also wrote several poems. They were just as well received as his plays, some are, The Phoenix and the Turtle, Fear no more the heat o' the sun, and from The Rape of Lucrece.
  • Mahabharata is the longest poem in the world. The Indian epic poem contains about 1.8 million words.
  • The European Commission has included poetry in its diverse cultural initiatives. In 2013, it launched “Transpoesie”, an annual event that displayed translated contemporary poems on the public transportation system in Brussels.
  • The Goethe Institute, a German cultural association with branches throughout Europe, often holds events, workshops, and competitions on World Poetry Day to celebrate the German language and its contribution to world poetry.

Top things to do in the EU for World Poetry Day

  • Read up about riddles, rhymes, limericks and sonnets and then try to write your very own original poem. Once written, share it on social media as a picture or a note.
  • Go see a poetry slam show. It is often a dramatic performance in which poets recite their poetry. It is considered to be one of the most interesting ways of engaging poetry.
  • Attend the Ljubljana Summer Festival in Slovenia: Slovenia has a rich poetic history. For World Poetry Day, it would be unique to visit the Ljubljana Summer Festival which often incorporates poetry into its schedule.
  • Read a book to learn more about Poetry in European Union:
    Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology - by Tim Kendall: Covering a wide range of European poets who participated in the war.
    Contemporary European Poetry: We Need Poetry - by Martina Evans: A collection of essays which showcases the vitality of contemporary European poetry across language, style, and subject matter.

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