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UNESCO’s World Poetry Day

In light of the recent horrific terrorist attack in Christchurch in New Zealand and the general rise of movements tied to xenophobia, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, and anti-immigrant sentiment, poetry can be a much-needed force for good in international affairs. The Czech social media platform Poetizer wants to usher in this new role for poetry.

Today, March 23, 2019, we celebrate the 20th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Poetry Day. On this important anniversary, it is fitting to take a fresh look at poetry and its potential to become a powerful force for good in current international affairs. Despite what school curriculum may suggest, poetry is not simply the study of dead white men’s elitist thoughts regarding nearby flowers and pretty women. Poetry’s popularity and relevance is growing each year across the world as it becomes a new meaningful form of self-expression.

Over the past few years poetry has become a very strong force for those speaking against globally felt social injustices and prejudices. Interestingly enough, the vast majority of this new generation of poets and poetry-lovers is part of Generation Z or a Millennial. The most famous representative of this trend is the young Canadian-Indian feminist poet Rupi Kaur who has sold millions of her poetry books globally. Lately, poetry has become increasingly popular in the Western hemisphere. It grew to such an extent in 2018 that some analyses even consider poetry to be a new form of religion that believes in honesty and equality for  everyone. The absence of prejudice is its core value. Poetry has become the preferred choice for people searching for meaningful self-expression.

Poetry has much to offer in today's increasingly divided world. It has the power to bridge gaps between people globally as it builds real connections based on our common human experience, irrespective of our nationality, social status, religion or political views. In a world where social media is often characterized as promoting only the edited highlights of a person’s life, traditional social media platforms may not be the best place to share innermost thoughts, worries or memories. That is why Lukas and Johana Sedlacek, a couple residing in Prague, designed Poetizer: a social networking site just for writing, reading and sharing poetry. The site, originally launched in 2017, has since gone global and one can currently find 120,000 poems written by users in 120 countries on it.

Poetizer encourages people to interact with each other irrespective of their nationality, social status, religion or political views and to build meaningful friendships based on their common human experience of the world. The vision of this social media platform, which was founded in the Czech Republic, is for people to better empathize with one another by tearing down those walls we so often have up and that are so often reinforced by harmful ideologies and lack of exposure to otherness. Imagine how different humanity could be if we started communicating through poems and embracing all that we have in common.

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UNESCO’s World Poetry Day 246 KB PDF (Adobe Acrobat document) Mar 21, 2019