A multilingual poetry reading the evening of March 21 in Iowa City will be among several events taking place around the world as the UNESCO Cities of Literature celebrate World Poetry Day.
The Iowa City event, “War and Resistance: An Evening of Poetry to Promote Peace and Democracy,” is organized by University of Iowa International Programs and the Center for Language and Culture Learning. It will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. in 120 Phillips Hall on the UI campus. It will feature readings that will take place amidst an exhibition of photos taken by Fulbright photographers who, like poets, captured the tragic and heroic, devastating and hopeful moments of present life in Ukraine.
World Poetry Day, which takes place each year on March 21, was first declared by UNESCO during its 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard. Granada City of Literature in Spain leads the Cities of Literature World Poetry Day activity each year, and in 2023 their chosen theme is “Poetry for Life.” Granada’s celebrations commence with an opening ceremony at the City Hall central court, with the attendance of the City Mayor and other authorities from the cultural sphere where three poets will perform a poetry reading. This will be followed by 90 poets reading f in the gardens of the University of Granada Law School, 18 city bookstores and the long-running Poetry Slam Granada, in which 10 poets will compete to be judged the winner by public vote.
In all, a dozen of the 42 Cities of Literature are marking World Poetry Day with programs;
Dunedin, New Zealand: Dunedin has filmed performance poet David Eggleton, New Zealand Poet Laureate 2019-22, reading his iconic poem “What the future holds,” for sharing with our friends around the city, across the country and in other UNESCO Cities of Literature.
Durban, South Africa: Durban will celebrate with a short educational cartoon audio book compiled and written by Qap’s Mngadi and Artmatem Projects and Tradings Pty LTD that is based on true life issues that reflect peer pressure and teaches youth about the dangers of drugs.
Heidelberg, Germany: Heidelberg celebrates with a variety of events, embracing readings, poetry exhibitions and lectures organized by stakeholders such as the Heidelberg Forum for Arts, private initiatives and by writers from the city and the region.
Melbourne, Australia: Celebration includes an online video series with five poets from the cities of Heidelberg and Melbourne, to celebrate the culmination of a unique online writers room, Expedition Poetry.
Milan, Italy: Milan will hold several events between March 14-25 that feature poetry performances with poets and citizens, at Fondazione Mudima and at Triennale Milano.
Nanjing, China: Nanjing Literature Hall will receive a group of student visitors from special education institutes, Nanjing School for the Blind and Nanjing School for the Deaf for a shared poetry reading.
Nottingham, England: Nottingham Playhouse, Writing East Midlands and Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature join efforts for the project “Speak Easy for World Poetry Day,” a spoken world open mic night for young writers.
Seattle: Seattle City of Literature will celebrate by hosting bilingual readings in
Spanish and English according to the theme “Poetry for life.”
Tartu, Estonia: Tartu will celebrate with a diverse program that involves different venues, age groups and audiences. The celebrations begin with poetry performances by children and youth at Tartu Literature House, including members of Tartu Poetry Theatre carrying out poetry happenings in cafés and restaurants.
Wonju, South Korea: Wonju will celebrate with written poems and promotion on the Wonju city-run Facebook. The participants will be citizens from Wonju. Each participating citizen will contribute a poem of their own creation which will be illustrated by Wonju City of Literature posted between March 17-21.