“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.”
Writer Elizabeth Barrett Browning dedicated this iconic poem to her husband Robert Browning, but her famous sonnet could just as easily declare love for poetry itself. We can all do that March 21 on World Poetry Day.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) founded this day in 1999 to “give fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.” The group hoped to inspire the celebration of poetry all over the world, encouraging reading, writing, and teaching.
Poetry uses rhythms and imagery to elicit emotion and the imagination of the reader. Poetry can rhyme, using what are called meters of long and short syllables. Some poetry, written in what’s called “free verse,” doesn’t employ rhyme or meters. Poems are broken into stanzas, which are like paragraphs, and can be up to twelve lines long. We believe the first known poem appeared 4,000 years ago in Babylon. Today countless types of poems are available to enjoy, including haikus, limericks, sonnets, and ballads.
Poetry can change the way people view the world, inspire others, and mend the bonds between people and create harmony with one another.
However, poetry to many can be considered a dying art in a world filled with technology and more advanced ways of conveying messages of art and beauty.
World Poetry Day aims to appreciate the sentiment that poetry can create, forming meaningful relationships and expand one’s mind about history and cultures.
Learn about World Poetry Day
World Poetry Day takes place every year to promote the teaching of poetry, as well as the publishing, writing, and reading of this form of writing around the world. It was declared by UNESCO in 1999 and they stated that their purpose for creating this day was:
“with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard”
They also stated in their original declaration that World Poetry Day was about giving fresh impetus and recognition to international, regional, and national poetry movements.
All in all, this is a day that is designed to inspire and educate, as well as giving poets all around the world recognition for their creative brilliance!
History of World Poetry Day
World Poetry Day was conceived during the 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999. Those at the conference had the ambition to support the growth of linguistic diversity through poetics and help in increasing awareness of endangered and dying so they can be heard.
World Poetry Day also honors poets, revives the practice of poetry recitals, and promotes poetry as a form of art that connects people to their humanity. With generations upon generations of poets and time periods to choose from, poetry can gain insight into the ideas and feelings of that time.
By also attending poetry recitals, people can experience the languages that words and emotions are spoken through and experience emotional bonds with others.
World Poetry Day is hosted by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, a subsection of the United Nations that promotes the advancement of culture through effort, communication, and passion.
World Poetry Day is annually celebrated by schools, organizations, libraries, and publishers all over the globe through teaching about poets, styles of poetry, and the languages that they’re read through.
Throughout the day, people host festivals, talk about their favorite poets and learn about the different ways that poetry can be written and spoken. UNESCO also offers social media kits and other resources to help those around the world learn about how to read poetry and understand its meaning in day to day life.
How to celebrate World Poetry Day
Celebrate World Poetry Day by reading some poetry. Look up poets such as Sylvia Plath, John Keats, William Wordsworth, and Ezra Pound. If you want to learn more about poets out there, then attend a college class on poetry, or head on over to a spoken word event to catch up on the latest poets on the stage.
There are lots of other exciting ways that you can celebrate World Poetry Day. Rather than reading a poem, why not watch a poetry reading? Thanks to the likes of YouTube, we have access to all sorts of videos today, and so it should not be difficult to find a poetry reading that interests you. The live recital of a poem, especially from the author who has written it, is extremely powerful. It takes the depth of meaning of the words to a whole other level. We would recommend taking a look at readings from the likes of Hera Lindsay Bird and Jay Bernard. They’re pretty incredible!
If you have children, World Poetry Day is the perfect opportunity for you to increase their awareness of this literary form and show them how fun and exciting poetry can be. After all, not all poems are serious! Poems can make us laugh, especially those that use clever wordplay and puns.
You can find lots of great books of poems that have been specifically designed for children. We would recommend Roger McGough’s Poetry Pie, which features more than 50 poems that will make your child laugh. Other good options include Cat Among the Pigeons by Kit Wright and Gargling with Jelly by Brian Patten.
If World Poetry Day has got you feeling inspired, why not write your own poem? You don’t need to be the next Shakespeare to enjoy writing poetry! Whether you decide to share it with other people or keep your poems to yourself is entirely up to you. If you’re feeling at a loss, don’t worry. It can seem a bit overwhelming if you have never written a poem before! It is always good to start with a goal in mind. What are you hoping to achieve by writing the poem?
Some other types include communicating your theme, using concrete words rather than abstract words, using similes and metaphors, using images, and avoiding sentimentality and cliches. You will find lots of interesting books and videos online about writing poems, so you can look up some of these to help you. There is no right or wrong way to write a poem or to begin the process, it is all about finding what works for you, and so it can definitely help to listen to some of the different methods that people use.
Find your favorite poet and share them on social media using the hashtag #WorldPoetryDay. Let your friends and family know today’s a day to appreciate language and the way we communicate with one another.