Nebka's Nook: World Poetry Day - March 21st

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Author: Nebka Galyn, March 2018

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In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21st, UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.

A decision to proclaim March 21st as World Poetry Day was adopted during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999.

One of the main objectives of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.

The observance of World Poetry Day is also meant to encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity.

Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.

Random facts about Poetry

  • The oldest poem is a poem from Babylon called the Epic of Gilgamesh. It is 4,000 years old
  • The oldest English poem is Beowulf – written in the 8th century
  • Mahabharata is the longest poem in the world. It is an Indian epic poem which has around 1.8 million words and is named Mahabharata.
  • Poetry is a great way to improve your vocabulary
  • Poetry is an outlet for our emotions
  • Haiku is one of the most popular poetry forms
  • Metrophobia is the name for the fear of poetry
  • Poetry can be used to make your rap better
  • Poems don’t have to rhyme. Sometimes rhyme doesn’t suit the theme or the feeling of the poem
  • George MacDonald (1824-1905) wrote a two-word poem called ‘The Shortest and Sweetest of Songs’. It simply reads: ‘Come Home.’

To get started enjoying some poems visit: 10 Greatest Poems EVER

Some of our site members have been sharing their poetry in this thread:
Blu's Weekly Poetry Prompt Thread

Come share your poems with us!

I will leave you with a message from UNESCO's Director-General:

We have not wings, we cannot soar;
But we have feet to scale and climb
By slow degrees, by more and more,
The cloudy summits of our time.

At a time when the challenges we face – from climate change, inequality and poverty to violent extremism – seem so steep, the words of the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow give us hope.

Arranged in words, coloured with images, struck with the right meter, poetry has a power that has no match. This is the power to shake us from everyday life and to remind us of the beauty that surrounds us and the resilience of the shared human spirit.

Poetry is a window onto the breath-taking diversity of humanity. UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity includes dozens of forms of oral expression and poetry, from the Tsiattista poetic duelling of Cyprus, the Ca trù sung poetry of Viet Nam and Al-Taghrooda to the traditional Bedouin chanted poetry of Oman and the United Arab Emirates. As old as language itself, poetry remains more vital than ever, in a time of turbulence, as a source of hope, as a way to share what it means to live in this world.

The poet Pablo Neruda wrote, “poetry is an act of peace.” Poetry is unique in its ability to speak across time, space and culture, to reach directly the hearts of people everywhere. This is a wellspring for dialogue and understanding – this has always been a force to challenge injustice and advance freedom. As UNESCO’s new Goodwill Ambassador for Artistic Freedom and Creativity, Deeyah Khan, has said, all art, including poetry, “has the extraordinary capacity to express resistance and rebellion, protest and hope.”

Poetry is not a luxury. It lies at the heart of who we are as women and men, living together today, drawing on the heritage of past generations, custodians of the world for our children and grandchildren. By celebrating poetry today, we celebrate our ability to join together, in a spirit of solidarity, to scale and climb “the cloudy summits of our time.” We need this to take forward the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, to implement the Paris Climate Agreement, to ensure no woman or man is left behind.

Director-General of UNESCO Irina Bokova