The World Poetry Day on Sunday March 21, may have faded as a normal day but poets and similar art enthusiasts reflected on it.
With travel restricted and large public gatherings like literary readings and fairs canceled due to the pandemic, we can dust off and crack open those volumes of Shakespeare on our shelves or comb through the 24/7 net for poetry events.
Poetry’s power in the contemporary world was not lost on UNESCO, when at a General Conference in Paris in 1999 it first adopted March 21 as World Poetry Day.
“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings,” the UNESCO.
Celebrating the World Poetry day last year, Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General observed, “Arranged in words, colored 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 the power to remind us of the beauty that surrounds us and of the resilience of the human spirit.”
Meanwhile, the Poetry International (PI) Festival in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, one of the major poetry festivals in Europe, has for over 50 years attracted poetry greats.
This year’s PI festival is slated for June and will be a mixture of live-streamed readings, interviews with poets and translators, and perhaps small, outdoor events.
PI director Inez Boogaarts said the pandemic makes planning for any festival difficult. “In the past, many visitors have come to the festival not only to hear poetry, but for the ambiance and to meet other people: that is normally half the fun of going to a festival. That is a completely different experience than participating on the computer.”
“Young people now have grown up with the internet, smartphones and especially, social media. For them, the internet a place for meeting other poets and poetry lovers around the world,” she noted.
“Poetry online has exploded in the past five years, even before the pandemic – from poetry blogs to online platforms to social media,” Boogaarts pointed out.