17.03.2010 -

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of World Poetry Day 2010, 21 March 2010

Every language has its poetry and every human being holds the key to their own poetics. Whether it takes on a simple or embellished form, poetry captures what is most difficult to interpret in human experience. Poetry expresses the inexpressible, the common ground of the human mystery.

On this World Poetry Day 2010, let us recall that poetry is a universal country in which peoples may meet through words of all colours, rhythms and musicality. Words that, regardless of the language from which they blossomed, reach out far for a light that captures the very essence of the human being, the dignity of each person.

UNESCO, committed to its mandate to fully promote the democratic principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect perceives poetry as a vital resource: all poetry, across the world and throughout time, has deciphered the inexpressible light of humanity.

The year 2010 has been proclaimed International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures by the United Nations. UNESCO has been designated as the lead agency within the United Nations system in charge of its celebration throughout the year. Within the framework of this Year, envisaged as a springboard for the revival of cultural diversity and renewal of intercultural dialogue, poetry plays an invaluable role. It provides a unique link bringing cultures together at a different level, devoid of any contingency.

Poetry is a collection of universal resonances. It needs, however, to be better known, brought down from its pedestal, so as to simply find its place at the heart of life. In order to do so, it should be further collected, studied, published and translated. With its new programme for 2010-2011 “Rabindranath Tagore, Pablo Neruda and Aimé Césaire for a reconciled universal”, UNESCO will particularly encourage all multidisciplinary means of making poetry more accessible and increase its impact, under the joint auspices of these three great poets.

Poetic diversity provides another form of dialogue. It reveals to us that all individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. It is an aspect of our freedom, it is what makes us human. Poetry should, therefore, have its rightful place in quality education programmes. Through access to universal poetics, young people may benefit from an additional, different, subtle and fluid vehicle for understanding the Other. Discovering a new poem is a venture into the language, emotion and sensitivity of the Other, irrespective of geographical distance.

Poetry echoes across place, without borders or barriers. It is a means of correspondence, a vehicle for knowledge and discovery of the Other. Let us make it into a new path to peace.

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