Message by the Director-General of UNESCO on the occasion of World Poetry Day, 21 March 2005

21 March 2005

Poetry is a language which can remind us all of the magic of words, offering us consequently an infinite space for thought and dialogue about the world around us, the world of the imagination and the world of the possible.

Poetry is valuable to us because it does not make a fetish of knowledge but brings to light that part of it that is obscure, unsuspected, unfinished. This makes it a tremendous instrument of freedom, unfaltering in its challenge to codes and powers, the real and what can be represented.

This utopia of language borne by poetry and literature in general must be reflected faithfully in this international day, which I would like to dedicate to the young generations, to whom we must provide the means of an inventive language, open to difference.

The fact is that our capacity to foster a plural and critical use of language comes into play through poetry. But it also has the virtue of being intimately connected to our private practices of writing, reading, translating and sharing. In this respect it is more then ever before at the heart of the pact we have entered into, in the context of the International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World (2001-2010), to promote an enlightened learning based on the ideals of artistic and literary creation, freedom of expression and cultural diversity.

Offering us an exceptional opportunity for contemplation, poetry is also a relevant way of expressing the plurality of the world and its languages. We must, then, be attentive to it as never before, since it opens up a troubled meditation on the fragility of signs, knowledge and cultures.

Poets, readers, publishers, translators, teachers, this Day belongs first and foremost to you. UNESCO will accompany your action as far as it can, as part of a dialogue open to the world and to otherness. I hope that, thanks to you, poetry will have a role at the very heart of our daily environment so that at last a re-enchanted world of peace and tolerance may be born.

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