Manchester City of Literature and Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University are celebrating World Poetry Day on 21st March with a collaborative commission of poets who were invited to respond to the theme of the door as a portal. As part of the commission, each local poet will be filmed reading their poem outside a Manchester doorway. Recognisable and iconic doors will be included to acknowledge and celebrate the city itself, and its longstanding vibrant poetry scene.
The film will also include new work from poet, artist and video film-maker Imtiaz Dharker. Dharker was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2014 and has been commissioned by Manchester Poetry Library, only the fourth such library in the UK, to create a series of poems to celebrate its opening this year, with the first of these to be shared for World Poetry Day.
The film will also feature specially commissioned poems from other UNESCO Creative Cities, Granada City of Literature in Spain and Slemani City of Literature in Iraq. In celebrating World Poetry Day, UNESCO recognises the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.
During the ongoing pandemic, many doors are closed to people but poetry can help open them in different ways and inspire anyone experiencing lockdown. Poems that speak about the power of the imagination were sought, giving hope in dark times and about the door as a gateway or as the start of a new journey as the phasing to come out of national lockdown begins.
Carnegie and Greenaway nominated writer Dom Conlon will be writing about unassuming and forgotten doorways; poet and theatre-maker Roma Havers who has previously been commissioned by MIF, MLF, Manchester Histories and HOME will write about survival and joy; poet, producer and translator Ali Al-Jamri will be writing about the gates at Albert Park and belonging; and Jerwood-Arvon nominee, writer and journalist Andrew Oldham will write about the greening of urban spaces.
The filmed readings will be broadcast on Sunday 21 March as part of UNESCO World Poetry Day celebrations via YouTube and social media (@MCRCityofLit and @MCRPoetryLib).