UNESCO World Poetry Day Message 2000

Paris, March 15 {No.2000-22} – On the occasion of World Poetry Day (March 21), celebrated for the first time this year, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura is launching the following message:

“Among the many different forms of human expression, poetry has a major and distinct place. It has always stood apart in the temple of literature. The ancient bards often expressed themselves through this rhythmic construction of words.

“But poetry is more than a rigid codified literary form. It is the basis of every branch of literary and artistic expression. Do we not say of novels, paintings, musical compositions and films that they are poetic?

“Poetry is not very demanding; a voice or a sheet of paper are enough to give it life. We meet with poetry at all times and in all places, thus proving its universality and transcendental nature.

“Every culture identifies with its poets through their ability to give life to its underlying yearnings, it most secret dreams and its shared hopes.

“Yet, poetry is also an incomparable means of intercultural understanding. Learning it in his earliest years helps an individual to develop his sensitivity, deepen his understanding of the complexity of the world, to understand others, through the refinement of art and to steady his feet on the road of life.

“Since its creation, UNESCO has developed a programme for the translation of poetic works from all over the world to make them available to the greatest number and so participate in international dialogue and understanding.

“And so, celebrating this first World Poetry Day, I invite the authorities, associations and civil society everywhere to do everything in their power to restore poetry to its traditional role in the life of the community in order to pursue its universal vocation in the service of cultural diversity and peace in the world.”


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Kōichirō Matsuura

Kōichirō Matsuura served as the Director General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) from 1999 to 2009.

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