By Kia Clark.
‘Poetry is what in a poem makes you laugh, cry, prickle, be silent, makes your toe nails twinkle, makes you want to do this or that or nothing, makes you know that you are alone in the unknown world, that your bliss and suffering is forever shared and forever all your own.'
~ Dylan Thomas
Held every year on the 21st of March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of our most powerful forms of expression: poetry.
Found throughout history, in every culture and on every continent, poetry has long been the literary emissary of shared human connection, of activism and change.
As UNESCO says, ‘poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.’
World Poetry Day is an occasion to celebrate poets, promote the reading, writing, and teaching of poetry and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.
Our lyrical education tends to begin and end with the great war poets, we analyse the lines of Dulce et Decorum Est and we discuss the structure of In Flanders Fields, but there is an endless catalogue of poetry to be explored.
What about epic poems, the sonnet, the ballad, the haiku? What about poems with perfect rhyming couplets and those you didn’t realise were poems at all? Let’s give a nod to poems spoken through mics at coffee shops and song lyrics that stick in your head for days on end.
This World Poetry day why don’t you explore poems about…
Take a chance to cherish the words of Maya Angelou, Sylvia Plath, Audre Lorde, Claudia Rankine and Rupi Kaur. The Poetry Foundation has collections dedicated to Women’s History Month and Poetry and Feminism.
Race and Identity
Poetry can be fun and a distraction, but it is also powerful. Poems can perfectly communicate ideas, feelings, movements. Poetry provides windows into the lives of others, not just of today but of the distant past, like these collections relating to the Civil Rights Movement, Racial Justice and Equality, Muslim Faith and Islamic Culture and LGBTQ Pride.
Love poems aren’t just declarations of love, although romantic poems are some of the most beautiful, poems about love can explore a whole spectrum of feelings. As The Poetry Foundation says, ‘love isn’t all roses and candlelight. It has always been a complicated thing: recent poets have accurately portrayed love’s more thorny, baffling, and intricate aspects, and if you look closely, you’ll find that classic poets sometimes did as well’.
…and here are some beautiful collections that deserve a place on your shelves:
Penguin also recommends five ways to celebrate World Poetry Day. The Poetry Foundation, The Poetry Society, The Poetry Archive , Poetry Button, The Guardian Poetry, The British Library, and The National Poetry Library are all wonderful free resources for poetry, discussion and education.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, take a moment to read a poem. It could be as quick as 17 syllables!
And the perfect way to finish is to include a Poem about Poetry!
The Power of Poetry by Tom Zart
Poetry is the lighthouse of life
Guiding the lost from a stormy sea.
Without it's presence darkness prevails
Keeping us from all we can be.
Poems are used to convey passion By poets of both good and evil mood. Some are hateful others loving Sharing thoughts to be consumed as food.
Verse can lead us to glory or doom As we partake with others within. Depicting our past, present and future; With words of man's grace or sin.
People write poetry because they have no choice Answering to the call of their gift. Where some tend to pull their readers down Others compose to give them a lift.
Always remember the power of poetry Is used by both heaven and hell. It's up to us to choose our pleasure As poetry remains alive and well.