UNESCO Cities of Literature celebrate creativity and togetherness on World Poetry Day

UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature use creativity and culture to promote the social, economic and cultural development of their cities. In these times of global uncertainty, the network continues to connect literary communities across the world, forging bonds through the power of books, words and ideas.

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 from 5pm to 9pm 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.  12 Cities of Literature, including Granada, are running celebrations for World Poetry Day 2023:  Dunedin, Durban, Granada, Heidelberg, Lillehammer, Melbourne, Milan, Nanjing, Nottingham,Quebec City, Seattle, Tartu and Wonju. Across the world, these activities celebrate poetry and its power to speak to our common humanity and our shared values. Other Cities of Literature around the world will share these initiatives, inviting their communities to join in and celebrate poetry in all its forms. World Poetry Day will be marked in this way around the world, and the Cities of Literature hope to raise awareness about the power of literature and poetry for building sustainable and inclusive societies.

Dunedin, New Zealand

Especially for World Poetry Day 2023, 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. We will all be united and feel the strength of this collective poetic moment as we listen and share and consider what the future holds.

Durban, South Korea

Durban will celebrate this WPD 2023 with a less than 5 minutes educational cartoon audio book compiled and written by Qap’s Mngadi and ARTMATEM PROJECTS AND TRADINGS PTY LTD. This cartoon booklet is based on true life issues that reflect peer pressure and teach youth about the dangers of drugs.  It also highlight and teach teenagers (youth) how drugs affect parents and community at large. This educational cartoon audio book can be screened and a 15 minutes stage play depicting this book can also be played for the audience. The participants will be 4 actors and 1 poet in schools, taxi ranks and rehab centres.

Heidelberg, Germany

The UNESCO City of Literature Heidelberg celebrates the World Poetry Day 2023 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. Further events are World Poetry Day at the Heidelberg Forum for Art: (www.heidelbergerforum-fuer-kunst.de); Literature finds Church: Writers from Heidelberg’s Authors Assembly, Artes liberales universitas (http://universitas.artesliberales.name/), Poetry and Nature: Plant desires & love anima; constantly alive: Read out your favorite poems!; the Heidelberg Romantics: Poetry to Music; the Literature Offensive: Come into the Open! invites for an Open Reading for unpublished poetry and short prose. Author and self-publisher Gabi Heiler performs Poems in the Philosopher’s Garden which deals with the issue of self-esteem.

Iowa City, United States

Two University of Iowa programs come together for the event “War and Resistance: An Evening of Poetry to Promote Peace and Democracy.” The University of Iowa’s International Programs and the Center for Language and Culture Learning will hold the event on March 21 on the UI campus. This multilingual poetry reading 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. “As Ukrainians continue to resist the Russian invasion into their land, it remains important to bear witness, to make art, and to read poems of resistance,” said Claire Frances, director of the Center for Language and Culture Learning.

Lillehammer, Norway

Long live Poetry!

Tuesday March 21st, 2023, at 6:30 pm, at the Lillehammer Public Library and House of Literature. A celebration of World Poetry Day in Lillehammer City of Literature with local poets, writers, poetry readers as well as a exclusive launching of the poetry programme during the Norwegian Festival of Literature in May 2023.

Webpage: https://p.lillehammerbibliotek.no/events/leve-poesien-inge-eidsvag-kari-og-bjorn-hatterud-og-litteraturfestivalen/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/906150240654828/

Melbourne, Australia

Online video series with 5 poets from the cities of Heidelberg and Melbourne, to celebrate the culmination of the unique online writers room, Expedition Poetry. The participants will join together in 5 unique videos in which they will read one of their peer’s poems in the poet’s native tongue and then discuss the process of working together. Produced and published by the Wheeler Centre.

Milan, Italy

The city of Milan will join the World Poetry Day celebrations on 14, 19, 23 and 25 March with the following events:

Nanjing, China

On Tuesday March 21, Nanjing Literature Hall, the seat for Nanjing City of Literature, will receive a group of student visitors from special education institutes, Nanjing School for the Blind and Nanjing School for the Deaf. They are to join hands with volunteers to share poem reading. The volunteers are mostly middle school students and represent a diverse background. For the event, each participant will read and recommend a poem of their selection. All the participants will enjoy an accessible guided tour of the Nanjing Literature Hall, taking a walk around the beautiful garden when flowers are blooming during the time. On the social media platform Sina Weibo, all are welcome to participate through the hashtag TBD #我们一起读首诗 (“Let’s Read a Poem Together”).

Nottingham, England

Nottingham Playhouse, Writing East Midlands and Nottingham UNESCO Cit of Literature join efforts for the project ‘Speak Easy for World Poetry Day’, a spoken world open mic night for young writers. This project brings together young emerging spoken word talent of Nottingham and facilitates their development as by providing them with performance opportunities, masterclasses and creative writing workshops. On Friday 17th March, Speak Easy are hosting their next open mic night at Nottingham Playhouse from 6-8pm, just in time for World Poetry Day!

Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City will contribute to the World Poetry Day celebrations with two in-person and three virtual activities.

The virtual events include a virtual gallery launch on microresidencies, a reading of poetry collections published by parliamentarians and a virtual bookstore of books by 20 Québec City poets.
More info: microresidences.contourspoesie.com, https://www.bibliotheque.assnat.qc.ca//fr/, https://www.leslibraires.ca/thematique/journee-mondiale-de-la-poesie-2023-6340/, https://www.leslibraires.ca/

Seattle, United States

Seattle City of Literature will celebrate World Poetry Day 2023 by hosting bilingual readings in Spanish and English according to the Theme “Poetry for life”.

Tartu, Estonia

On March 21st Tartu City of Literature will celebrate World Poetry Day 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. In the afternoon the members of Tartu Poetry Theatre will spread awareness about World Poetry Day all across the city by carrying out poetry happenings in cafés and restaurants. The day will end with a poetry and music program at the culture club Salong at Tartu Literature House. Additionally Tartu continues the tradition started in 2020 — everybody can send the organisers poetry videos which will be published on the Facebook page of the event during the day.

Wonju, South Korea

The City of Wonju will celebrate WPD 2023 with written poems and promotion in Wonjucityrun 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 and posted at a rate of one each day starting on March 17 till March 21.

To learn more about the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature Network: https://www.citiesoflit.com/

Follow the social media hashtag: #WorldPoetryDay

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