According to UNESCO, the annual commemoration aims to support “linguistic diversity through poetic expression” and increase “the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard”.
Alongside this, the day seeks to:
promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.
The day pays homage to poets across continents and encourages creativity.
On Twitter, renowned and innovative young poets from all over the world shared their work, expressing ideas and feelings through the magic of words. Below are just a few.
Many contributions came from young children whose poems shed light on the impact of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, the suffering of war, and hopes for world peace.
Oh how I miss my freedom, the freedom to be a child, to just run and play
…We are afraid yet we are fearless – Lincoln, 11, Sheffield, UK
'Don’t give up hope the end is in sight' – Lincoln, 11, Sheffield
As lockdown begins to ease, to mark #WorldPoetryDay we invited 15 children from all around the world to write a poem about how Coronavirus has affected them.
This is what they told us… 📽️ pic.twitter.com/839h9eiyKF
— Save the Children UK (@savechildrenuk) March 21, 2021
What if peace was a pandemic?
…With peace, we can get rid of any conflict – Areej, 13, Yemen
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) March 21, 2021
A silence that is bursting with agonizing screams
So quiet and yet devastated with shattered dreams [translated from Farsi] – Huda Hedayat, 13, Afghanistan
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) March 19, 2021
Refugees, asylum seekers and migrants
Powerful accounts of how it feels to live in conflict-ridden parts of the world, and the experiences of having to seek refuge from countries like Nigeria and Myanmar, were also shared on social media.
I lost the tools to eradicate ignorance and prejudice
Shall I stay or move ahead? – Abdulrahman Umar, Nigeria
"Boom! Boom! That's the sound for panic. I run helter-skelter as I seek for refuge…"- Abdulrahman Umar, a student affected by conflict in northeast Nigeria recites a poem for peace. pic.twitter.com/4Sy3x5drRm
— UNICEF Nigeria (@UNICEF_Nigeria) March 21, 2021
With a finger snap from a dream seeker
I was transformed to an asylum seeker – Damien Trasha, Ireland
Damien Trasha has been living in Ireland for more than two years and his poem ‘Story of an Asylum Seeker’ reflects on his experiences living in Direct Provision.@tcddublin @tcdalumni @TCD_CRS @SciGalleryDub#WorldPoetryDay #WorldPoetryDay2021 pic.twitter.com/z0kcMI7snm
— TrinityLongRoomHub (@TLRHub) March 21, 2021
They say “A book is like a home”. Yet they destroy a place that I call home.
They say “Education is future”. Yet they deny my future – Jamalida Rafigue, Ireland.
Born in Bangladesh, in a refugee camp, Jamalida Rafigue is a Rohingya girl who is now living in Ireland. Her poem is called ‘A Window to my World’ & is dedicated to “hundreds of thousands of Rohingya children without education" around the world.#WorldPoetryDay #WorldPoetryDay2021 pic.twitter.com/Bp1lbqPYT7
— TrinityLongRoomHub (@TLRHub) March 21, 2021
Hope for peace
World champion poets, iconic leaders and pioneering activists also recited their poems
Normal heart rate:
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When you watch the incredible @EmiThePoet:
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— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) March 21, 2021
American poet Maya Angelou’s famous ‘A Brave and Startling Truth’, written for the UN’s 50th anniversary at the time, also circulated online:
And when we come to it, to the day of peace making
When we release our fingers from fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms… – Maya Angelou
"When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, we are the true wonder of this world
That is when, & only when
We come to it."
— United Nations (@UN) March 21, 2021
If you’d like to get involved in poetry, Penguin’s list of ways that you can find inspiration is a good start. It includes:
- Get your prescription from The Poetry Pharmacy
- Watch a poetry reading
- Share poetry with people of all ages
- Add some award-winning poetry on your to-read list
- Start writing your own poetry
And you don’t need to wait till the next World Poetry Day to start, either.
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