Celebrating World Poetry Day

Held every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. Practiced throughout history – in every culture and on every continent – poetry speaks to our common humanity and our shared values, transforming the simplest of poems into a powerful catalyst for dialogue and peace.

«Message from Irina Bokova»

The voices that carry poetry help to promote linguistic diversity and freedom of expression.

  Irina Bokova, Director General
Message on World Poetry Day 2016

UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day 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.

World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster

the convergence between poetry and other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media.  As poetry continues to bring people together across continents, all are invited to join in.

Poetry Recital at UNESCO

http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CLT/images/200_m_darwich_0.jpgOn 15 March 2016 the Permanent Delegation of Palestine hosted an event at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters: "Je te dis tant de choses" ("I tell you so many things"); a tribute to the words and their music of the most famous Palestinian poet, Mahmoud Darwish, considered as one of the greatest Arab poets of the twentieth century.


Pencho Petkov Slaveykov

150th anniversary of the birth of Pencho Petkov Slaveykov, writer (1866-1912)

Miguel de Cervantes

400th anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes, writer (1547-1616)

Rubén Darío

150th anniversary of the birth of the poet Rubén Darío (1867-1916) and 100th anniversary of his death

Nikolay Mikhailovich Karamzin

250th anniversary of the birth of Nikolay Mikhailovich Karamzin, writer (1766-1826)

Complete list of anniversaries




Poetry as intangible cultural heritage

  • Al Zajal, recited or sung poetry (Lebanon)
  • Al-Zajal is a form of Lebanese folk poetry which is recited or sung by both men and women at social and family celebrations, and in daily life. These poems often concern themes such as life, love, nostalgia, death, politics and everyday events.

  • Tsiattista poetic dueling (Cyprus)
  • The lively, impromptu oral poetry known as Tsiattista is often performed to the accompaniment of violin or lute in ‘jousts’ in which one poet-singer attempts to outdo another with clever verses made up of rhyming couplets.

  • Tradition of Vedic chanting - sanskrit poetry (India)
  • The Vedas comprise a vast corpus of Sanskrit poetry, philosophical dialogue, myth, and ritual incantations developed and composed by Aryans over 3,500 years ago. They represent one of the world’s oldest surviving cultural traditions.

  • Epic art of Gorogly (Turkemistan)
  • The epic art of Gorogly is an oral performing tradition describing the achievements of the legendary hero Gorogly and his forty cavalrymen. It incorporates narration, singing, composition, prose, poetry and vocal improvisation, and also functions as an oral encyclopaedia of traditional customs and knowledge.