Culture & Society

World Poetry Day: Reviving Ancient Tradition, Forging Modern Connections

Outlook has consistently championed the form of poetry, recognising its power to evoke emotions, convey profound truths, and bear witness to human experiences.

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From the ancient epics inscribed onto clay tablets to the modern couplets shared across digital screens, poetry has been an important tact for human expression throughout the ages. It is this timeless art form that UNESCO sought to celebrate and promote when it adopted March 21st as World Poetry Day during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999.

Why do we celebrate World Poetry Day?

The reason behind designating a day for world poetry was driven by an ambition to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression. By shining a light on poetry's myriad voices across cultures, the day aimed to raise awareness of endangered and dying languages, allowing them to be heard and appreciated on a global stage. But World Poetry Day represents more than just linguistic preservation.

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At its core, it honors the poets and revered bards whose inspired words have shaped the human story across millennia. It is a revival of the ancient traditions of poetry recitals and a rallying cry to reinvigorate the artform as a conduit connecting people to their shared humanity. With a tapestry of generations and eras to explore, the poems of the past offer a window into the ideas, emotions, and lived experiences that united our ancestors in kinship.

Through the simple yet profound act of attending poetry recitals, we can experience the languages and dialectal nuances through which words and feelings have been spoken. We can forge emotional bonds with others across cultures by allowing the universal themes of verse to transcend borders. It is this capacity for transcendence that makes poetry such a powerful force for empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

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UNESCO and World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day is hosted annually by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – a specialized organisation of the UN devoted to advancing international collaboration through educational, scientific, and cultural reforms. Each year on March 21st, schools, libraries, organizations and publishers around the globe join UNESCO in a celebration of the poetic arts.

By offering social media kits, educational resources and a platform for international participation, UNESCO strives to make World Poetry Day an inclusive event. The goal is to help people of all ages and backgrounds integrate poetry into their daily lives – to find kinship in the shared human experience that the art form so expertly illuminates.

The Day represents a rallying cry to celebrate one of humanity's most treasured forms of expression. It is a day to honor the enduring voices whose timeless words have united us across cultures, enlightened us in times of darkness, and reminded us of the universal truths that make us fundamentally human.

Outlook has consistently championed the form of poetry, recognising its power to evoke emotions, convey profound truths, and bear witness to human experiences. January 21, 2024, an issue, titled "Poetry as Evidence," delved into the role of poetry as a testament to the struggles and resilience of people nationwide. Notably, the January 11, 2024, issue featured a poignant collection of poems by Palestinian poets, amplifying their voices and shedding light on their lived realities. Through these dedicated issues, Outlook has solidified its commitment to preserving and promoting the art form, ensuring that poetry remains a vital medium for expression and understanding.

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