World Poetry Day

Want to hear a poem? Okay, here goes: The rose is red and blooms in May, and the best of all holidays is World Poetry Day. While our little poem won’t win any poetry competitions, it is a good way for us to introduce the holiday of World Poetry Day.

This holiday falls on the 21st of March and was officially declared in 1999 by UNESCO. The purpose of this holiday is to support linguistic diversity by encouraging poetic expression and increasing the opportunities for endangered languages to be heard and preserved.

This is a day that promotes not only the reading and writing of poetry all over the world but also encourages the teaching of poetry. And because this is a holiday designed to give recognition and momentum to local, regional, national, and international poetry movements, it’s a holiday that everyone should consider celebrating.

The History of World Poetry Day

This holiday can be traced back to 1999 during the 30th session of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) that was held in Paris that year. During this conference, the spotlight was placed on the state of poetry in the world and its importance to human civilization, so they decided to analyze the situation and find out what could be done to preserve and promote poetry throughout the world.

This analysis of the current state of poetry highlighted the following key points: 1) Poetry can fulfill previously unfulfilled aesthetic needs in society; 2) Over the past 20 years, poetry has made a revival, and the number of poets has increased; 3) It’s a social need that has incited young people to return to their roots; 4) Poets are taking on new roles in society; 5) Poetry is part of the recognition of ancestral values and a return to speech as a means of socializing an individual; and 6) The modern media fails to take the poet seriously, and therefore, action is needed to give poetry its rightful place in society.

Interesting Facts about Poetry

Our research on the subject of poetry and World Poetry Day led us down some interesting paths. Paths that gave us a treasure trove of interesting facts that we think everyone will agree are pretty nifty. So if you’re looking for some trivia to wow your friends with on this day, then you might want to consider the following factoids.

  • The oldest poem is from Babylon called the Epic of Gilgamesh. It’s over 4,000 years old.
  • The oldest English poem is Beowulf—written in the 8th century.
  • Haiku is one of the most popular poetry forms.
  • Metrophobia is the name for the fear of poetry.
  • E.E. Cummings dedicated his book of self-published poetry entitled “No Thanks” to the publishers who turned him down.
  • An 1852 edition of John Milton’s Poetical Works was bound in the skin of George Cudmore—a man who murdered his wife.
  • Flyting is kind of like the original rap battle. It consists of two parties who insult each other using poetic verse.
  • Flyting was common from the 5th through the 16th centuries.
  • Emily Dickinson’s gravestone in Amherst, Massachusetts features not only her name, birth date, and death date but also two words: “Called Back.”
  • Metromania is the uncontrollable compulsion to write poetry.
  • The Mahābhārata is an Indian poem written in Sanskrit that’s over 200,000 individual verse lines.
  • The shortest poem ever written was by George MacDonald and it simply contained the phrase “Come Home.”
  • In 1915, poet Amy Lowell bought 10,000 cigars. She said that she needed them to help her write.
  • French poet and essayist Sully Prudhomme was the first person to win the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • The first poet to be buried in the Poets’ Corner of Westminster Abbey was Geoffrey Chaucer.

Celebrating World Poetry Day

On this day, poets all over the world share their work at universities, bookstores, cafes, schools, and even the Internet. It is also a day when educators and poetry advocates can take the time to share poetry with their students and the general public. And it is also a good day for people to check out their favorite poets. Another thing that people can do on this day is to try their hand at writing a poem.

If you’re unsure of where to start, you can simply begin by stringing together some random thoughts or by writing out the beginning of another poem. When you do that, you’ll find your own inspiration beginning from the simple act of writing.

Once you’ve written your poem, why not share it with the world using the hashtag #WorldPoetryDay on social media? Or, if you want to, you can take it to a local poetry slam. There are a million ways to celebrate this holiday, so think of some ways that you might want to observe World Poetry Day.

When is it?
This year (2024)
March 21 Thursday
Next year (2025)
March 21 Friday
Last year (2023)
March 21 Tuesday
Culture & History, Education & Reading, United Nations