Cities of Literature celebrate World Poetry Day 2024

20 March 2024 - News

UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature use creativity and culture to promote the social, economic and cultural development of their cities. In these times of global uncertainty, the network continues to connect literary communities across the world, forging bonds through the power of books, words and ideas.

19 Cities of Literature, including Granada, are running celebrations for World Poetry Day 2024:  Dunedin, Edinburgh, Granada, Heidelberg, Iasi, Iowa, Krakow, Kuhmo, Manchester, Melbourne, Milan, Nanjing, Norwich, Nottingham, Quebec City , Seattle, Tartu, Tukums and Wroclaw. Across the world, these activities celebrate poetry and its power to speak to our common humanity and our shared values. Other Cities of Literature around the world will share these initiatives, inviting their communities to join in and celebrate poetry in all its forms. World Poetry Day will be marked in this way around the world, and the Cities of Literature hope to raise awareness about the power of literature and poetry for building sustainable and inclusive societies.

Granada City of Literature in Spain leads the Cities of Literature World Poetry Day activity each year, and in 2024 their chosen theme is ‘the dawn of poetic spring’ whilst also celebrating 10 years as a UNESCO City of Literature. Granada’s celebrations will commence with an opening ceremony at the City Hall central court, with the attendance of the City Mayor and other authorities from the cultural sphere where three poets will perform readings, together with a guest poet from Nanjing UNESCO City of Literature, Mr. YU Bang. This will be followed by 80 poets reading from 5-9 pm in one of the faculties of the University of Granada and 14 city bookstores. They will also celebrate a long-running Poetry Slam in Granada at one of the University venues, in which 10 poets will compete to win by public vote.



Manchester City of Literature’s Multilingual City Poet Jova Bagioli Reyes has produced a newly commissioned poem about belonging and welcome, inspired by the newly refurbished Welcome Gallery at Manchester Museum, in both English and Spanish.

The poem, called Unbelonging (the right to live in dignity), can be read on our website here.


Activity to celebrate World Poetry Day in fellow UNESCO Cities of Literature:


Dunedin City of Literature is proud to be collaborating with City of Literature South D Poet Lorikeet, Jenny Powell, and SuperGrans Dunedin to offer SuperGrans staff, volunteers and their community a series of free poetry workshops over six weeks. SuperGrans staff and volunteers offer free holistic support to individuals and families to learn new skills. The series of workshops is a way of saying thank you for their great work in the community. Teacher and award-winning poet Jenny Powell says, ‘Poetry helps us identify what is important. It even enables us to become what we secretly yearn to be. I can’t wait to work with the SuperGrans, exploring this idea through poems. It doesn’t matter if people have never written poetry. Over a course of poetry writing sessions, I know that the group will develop these skills and, in the wonderful timelessness of poetry, become what they wish to be.



Edinburgh City of Literature will push the message of World Poetry Day through the libraries in the city. Many will be hosting readings with young and older audiences – Craigmillar Library will be hosting a workshop for adolescents to write their own haiku and acrostic poems, Stockbridge Library will have a display of poetry collections, Kirkliston and South Queensferry will have a family reading of poetry and the Scottish Poetry Library will be announcing the names of 20 new poets being added to their Online Guide to Scottish Poets. Napier University are celebrating World Poetry Day by launching a global science poetry competition (find out more here) and Edinburgh International Book Festival have a great archive of poetry events that are available to re-watch over on their website on World Poetry Day.



Heidelberg City of Literature celebrates the World Poetry Day 2024 with a variety of events, embracing readings, poetry installations and events for children organised by a variety of stakeholders. Celebrations include: Bei Anruf: Poesie! (whereby poets will recite their poems over the phone to poetry lovers who registered for this intimate gift), Poesie in die Stadt (a poster exhibition until 2 April 2024 of poetry, highlighting a different by poets who write in a German language), Shared Reading (a poetic city walk alongside poster exhibition Poetry in the City where participants are invited to read a few poems whilst speaking about a few in the exhibition), as well as Goethe für Kinder (where kids are invited to read and talk about Goethe in a hands-on reading format).



Iasi City of Literature will organise, in partnership with the National Museum for Literature Iasi and Alecart, the Zoon Poetikon – a poetry event on the day – at the Museum of Literature “St. Hierarch of Dosoftei ” Iași, 4:00 pm Romanian time (+1 to CET), which will be streamed online.



Iowa City of Literature will celebrate local poetry with a focus on the area’s long-standing “Poetry in Public” programme, and a reflection on the poets enshrined in the Iowa Avenue Literary Walk.



Kuhmo City of Literature will celebrate World Poetry Day in the Juminkeko Centre with an opening event for their new exhibition ‘Kalevala: muinaishaltijat ja luonto’. During this event there will also be a book launched and available with the same title – Kalevala: muinaishaltijat ja luonto, written by Jorma Keskitalo. The artist behind the exhibition is the photographer Hannu Ahonen.



Krakow City of Literature will celebrate World Poetry Day hosting a bilingual event on 21 March with Ukrainian poet, Ija Kiwa, and her translator, Aneta Kamińska. The meeting will take place in Nić, one of Kraków’s independent bookstores, which serves as the cultural center of the Ukrainian community of the city. Reading the latest poems by Ija Kiwa in the original and their Polish translations by Aneta Kamińska will be an opportunity to learn about the new work of one of the most important contemporary Ukrainian poets and reflect on poetic works commenting on the reality of war. The event will take place under the aegis of the Miłosz Festival, as part of the Versopolis program – the European Poetry Network, to which the festival belongs. Kiwa’s poetry will be available at the event in brochure format.



Melbourne City of Literature offers a chance to get familiar with some of their local poets by hosting an online poetry salon with local poetry publisher Vagabond Press. Six poets will be reading and sharing their work at 8am AEDT, Thursday 21 March (World Poetry Day) via Zoom. Register here



Milan City of Literature will join the World Poetry Day celebrations on 21 and 24 March with ‘The Island of Poetry,’ ‘Word and Desire,’ ‘Poetry Bullfighting’ and ‘Poetry and the Voice,’ many readings some of which will have more unique components to them, such as reading to a blindfolded audience.



Nanjing City of Literature is sending the poet Mr. YU Bang to Granada for a public poetry reading in the opening ceremony at the City Hall and for another literary event at the University, to celebrate World Poetry Day in the city of Granada.



The National Centre for Writing in Norwich City of Literature is hosting a poetry event specifically in partnership with the Poetry Translation Centre, supported by Arts Council England, titled Living in Language: World Poetry Day with Yang Lian & Mohan Rana.

This event will feature readings from Living in Language, the Poetry Translation Centre’s groundbreaking anthology of lyric essays, fragments, letters and new poems from 21 poets from around the world, with poets Yang Lian and Mohan Rana. You can find out more about the event here. Chaired by Erica Hesketh, the editor of the anthology and Director of the Poetry Translation Centre.



There are several events celebrating World Poetry Day in Nottingham City of Literature. Firstly, Nottingham’s Youth Advisory Board are planning a Pizza and Poetry evening on 21 March, which will consist of a poetry workshop led by co-vice chair of the Youth Advisory Board, Oli Nicol, and young people will be encouraged to come along to enjoy a fun evening of poetry at local pizzeria, Pizza Pilgrims. Furthermore, Speak Easy, the young poetry collective established by members of the Youth Advisory Board, will host an open mic night the day after World Poetry Day encouraging young and aspiring writers to come along and perform their work. Nottingham will also share poetry-related content on their social media channels in the run up to the these events, including a Tiktok series exploring Nottingham landmarks through poetry, and a selection of some of the Youth Advisory Board’s favourite poems.



Quebec City of Literature will be celebrating, sharing and supporting poetic initiatives happening across the city.



Seattle City of Literature is celebrating World Poetry Day by creating letterpress cards that feature poems from Bucheon, Slemani, and Seattle. They will be distributed in Seattle commencing on 21 March and will be sent to the other cities, Slemani and Bucheon as well.



On March 21st Tartu City of Literature will celebrate World Poetry Day with a diverse programme that involves different venues, age groups and audiences. The celebrations begin with an event for schoolchildren at Tartu Public Library where authors Ilme Mõttus and Contra will introduce their book of poetic forms and host a workshop for children. In the evening there will be shorter poetry reading at Tartu Observatory (performances by Sveta Grigorjeva, Teele Lember, Joonas Veelmaa, Sirel Heinloo, Rebeca Žukovits, and Jaan Malin), followed by a longer programme of poetry and music at the culture club Salong, where the programme includes Tartu City Writer 2024 Maarja Pärtna and musician Katariina Raska; the current guest of their Nordic-Baltic residency program, Ingólfur Eiríksson from Reykjavik, and Joonas Veelmaa, the winner of the European Poetry Slam Championship 2023. Tartu will also continue the tradition started in 2020 – everybody can send the organisers poetry videos, which will be published on the Facebook page of the event during the day. Stickers with quotes by the performers will also be printed and distributed before and during the WPD celebrations. Links to websites:



Since 1965, poetry days in Latvia have traditionally been widely celebrated in September. Obviously as part of the Cities of Literature Network, Tukums City of Literature will join the World World Poetry Day celebrations on 21 March. Tukums Writers’ Association is joining Granada’s initiative and will spend this day in the city boarding house for the elderly, which is situated in the Rauda wood. Poetry and conversations with the elderly will take up the morning, whilst in the afternoon they will invite the residents to a literary-musical performance in the hall of the boarding house where Tukums` authors will read their poetry and Latvian classics and sing poetry accompanied by the guitar.



For World Poetry Day 2024 Wroclaw City of Literature has planned an evening of poetry readings and a discussion concerning two interesting debut books of poetry published recently: Erosion by Natalia Dziuba and rare by Joanna Wróbel. The event will be organised as part of the Silesius Salon –a series of poetry events organised throughout the year as a supplement for the Silesius International Poetry Festival that takes place every year in Wrocław in May. The event will be free to attend and will be streamed on their social media.