These past weeks have seen a global outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19), including in many UNESCO Cities of Literature across the world. Our thoughts and admiration go out to all those who are working every day to protect the safety and wellbeing of their fellow citizens around the world.
During this evolving situation, UNESCO Cities of Literature made the unprecedented, but essential move to re-design World Poetry Day on March 21 2020 so that the network could continue to celebrate as far as possible in a digital space.
Fourtine cities of literature, Bucheon, Edinburgh, Heidelberg, Kraków, Kuhmo, Ljubljana, Manchester, Melbourne, Montevideo, Nottingham, Óbidos, Reykjavik, Tartu and Ulyanovsk, took their World Poetry Day events online with poetry readings, flash-mobs, videos and publishing on digital platforms, designed to honour poets and celebrate one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression.
World Poetry Day was thus highlighted across the world, even on this troubled March 21, 2020. The Cities of Literature hope to bring moments of joy and solace to the world and to leverage the power of creativity in offering unity and strength to cities and communities during these difficult times.
About World Poetry Day: World Poetry Day is on March 21, and was first declared by UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) 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.
Bucheon shared 10 poems written by local poets with the theme "When Poetry Meets Forest".
Edinburgh’s Scottish Poetry Library shared a poetry podcast from their collection on the house, every hour, throughout the day. https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk
In Krakow, they had asked a couple of poets to record themselves reading their favourite poem by Czesław Miłosz. Every day, starting from 18th March, they published one reading poet. They also shared the video of their ICORN writer reading in Arabic. Every post is translated into English and the translations of Miłosz's poems should be available online.
Link to the first video: https://www.facebook.com/FestiwalMilosza/posts/2892055547496114?notif_id=1584605724703025¬if_t=page_post_reaction
The Facebook page where the videos will appear: https://www.facebook.com/FestiwalMilosza/
Manchester poets read about their connection to trees and nature. Poems shared throughout the day. www.twitter.com/mcrcityoflit
A group of Heidelberg authors had decided to do a livestreamed reading with a title “Des dunklen Lichtes voll“ (a Hölderlin quote: more or less saying ‘full of dark light’). It took place on Friday 20th March (since it is the date of Hölderlin´s birthday) and they spread the video also on Saturday to promote World Poetry Day.
The reading – organized by the authors themselves –was hosted on YouTube on Friday from 8-9.30 PM on https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6eXx3-ZR6_fsEeR8lSkvzg
They also directly shared it on Facebook page of ‘LiteraturstadtHeidelberg’, here is the link to the Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/238636480600022/
Furthermore and together with Mannheim and the city of Lorsch nearby, they started this year to celebrate the WPD regionally publishing their events on that day on a common website: www.metropolpoesie.de
A gathering of a multidisciplinary bunch of people to unpack a poem and reinterpret it as a multisensory experience. Together they will tackle the question of what can be done to deliver the most inclusively conceptualised experience of a poem. Join the launch online at https://us04web.zoom.us/s/359937613
The Reykjavík City of Literature celebrated World Poetry Day 2020 with six new poetry videos. Members of the Reykjavík based poetry collective Svikaskáld (Imposter Poets) read a poem of choice by other poets, Icelandic or from abroad, and talked about their poem of choice. The readings were in Icelandic as the foreign poems have been translated. The videos have English subtitles. https://www.facebook.com/BokmenntaborginReykjavik/
An online celebration of World Poetry Day and World Forest Day in collaboration with Sherwood Forest. Hear narratives budding online: https://nottinghamcityofliterature.com
Poet and organiser of literary events Ignor, Dejan Koban, read his poetry and a selection of poems from other poets throughout the whole day - live on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/mestoliterature/
An online event calling all people to record and poetry videos and share them. All participants and all languages welcomed: https://www.facebook.com/events/707199873148254/
A poetry flash mob took place on social media with an appeal to readers to share poems online. Videos posted by local, Russian and foreign poets on social networks. The social media hashtag #WPDULSK20