UNESCO World Poetry Day Message 2002

20-03-2002 – – Loving poetry so as to love one another If ever there was an art where outlines are blurred and definitions impossible, it is poetry. And yet it is instantly recognizable: poetry is communication in its purest state; it is absolute freedom of language and a place where the real, the possible and the necessary merge.

Poetry has accompanied humankind since the beginning of time. It is practised and appreciated by people of all ages and all cultures. And while it illustrates moments in the life and history of the peoples of the earth and is nourished by contemporary fashions and concerns, it contains a universal element that ignores the frontiers of time and space. Thus we can be intensely moved by a poem that – despite its origins in a faraway place that we know nothing about – is the mirror of our own existence.

Let us seize the opportunity of this year 2002, declared United Nations Year for Cultural Heritage, to encourage the creation, translation and dissemination of poetry. Let us open the doors of our schools and universities, but also those of our work places and homes, to this major, very essential art. Because loving poetry helps us to love one another.

I invite national authorities, concerned associations and civil society everywhere to mobilize their efforts so that poetry has the place it deserves on this 21 March, but also in the long term.


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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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