‘Poetry is the art of uniting pleasure with truth’. There exists a depth in these words that ring true for all, lovers of poetry or not. As humans, a form of art that fundamentally differentiates us from all other species is the ability to pen down our emotions in the form of verses that are an avenue to our heart. Poetry is not just an art form but a way of living, a life that breathes through words. Poetry is an appropriation of what people experience, often surpassing the mundane to create something extraordinary from the everyday.
Celebrated each year on the 21st of March, World Poetry Day was recognized by the United Nations in 1999 as a day to pay homage to the brilliant poets the world has seen, their linguistic masterpieces and a day to celebrate the spirit to invigorate new minds to create more such works. While poetry knows no barriers or differences, distinct languages come together on this day to appreciate the beauty of the poetic expression.
The day is a way of going back to the ancient tradition of orality, to honor the power of the spoken verses and to establish a bond between the form of poetry and other art forms like theatre, dance, painting and music. The convergence is to help society embark on a journey of cultural fulfillment through works of verses that touch chords with many breaking any known boundaries.
All over the world, people come together from all walks of life like academicians, learners, artists, writers and the general public to appreciate this art that often seems to be taking the backseat in this fast-paced world. In a world where technology is the reigning factor and being fast is the only way to be, the solace that comes with reading poetry while languishing in the sun is hard to be replaced. The magic of words strung together in a rhythm bringing all who read it together can only be found in this art form, a form that is as ancient as time itself. As days pass, people have started to trade this beautiful pleasure with more common preferences, that are dithering and never final but what the world is forgetting is perhaps the strength that comes from poetry and the World Poetry Day is just one day to commemorate this art form.
It was at UNESCO’s 30th session that it was proclaimed to celebrate 21st March as World Poetry Day ‘to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression’. The power of this poetic expression exists in its ability to transform itself for personal interpretation and introspection to produce work that is distinctive, private yet has a way to talk to the masses. On this day, schools, other educational institutions, cafes around the globe organize events to celebrate the works of past poets and encourage budding poets to come up with their works to provide a space for them to flourish. Small publishers are encouraged to explore the prospects of this direction more. On this day, all boundaries related to linguistics, regions, countries are broken as people from every nation of the world dance to the common tune of poetry.
From Wordsworth to Angelou, the world has seen classical poets to modern poets who continue to enthrall us with their legendary works. Their works are a representation of the world they lived in, with their nuances and idiosyncrasies and allure. In these poems, readers visit different eras, experience a new life and live countless lives. These poems encapsulate in them different ideologies, express opinions, sometimes covertly and portray what the world is often coerced to suppress. In its various forms, poetry becomes a force to reckon with.
One day is not sufficient to laud the infinite achievements of poetry albeit the day is just a step towards a long walk of celebrating its innumerable feats. The forms of poetry have seen multifarious changes from classical poetry with its immense clarity and a particular form to modern poetry that finds its power in its obscurity. On this day, all these forms are celebrated without any discrimination. When a child is asked to read poetry, the child is initiated into a whole new world, a world that holds unlimited promises and a journey of a lifetime. On World Poetry Day, people pay a little tribute to this lifelong friend through celebrations in every nook and corner of the world. Competitions are organized to allow space for the dormant poets to blossom with their bursts of creativity in verses that ring true for many and bind people to each other.
Additionally, poetry doesn’t solely serve a creative purpose. As days evolve poetry has started to occupy a major space in the political and social spheres of society, playing a pivotal role in creating people's opinions on various concerns that are of contemporary import. In this way, poetry paves a way for people to reach out to others over contentious issues, that might have long-standing implications making poetry not just a creative outlet, but a societal influence.
World Poetry Day is and should continue to be celebrated with such grandeur for an eon to come, to celebrate the spirit of kinship through verses and innate humanity. Poetry is not an escape from reality but a clearer look at it, sometimes from within, at others from a distance allowing one to see life for what it really is. Poetry is not only about reading but also about writing for, in this world of the poets, treasure more valuable than any seen by humans can be found, quietly tucked within the endless words. Poetry is and will always be the call of the heart.
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