UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature join forces to celebrate World Poetry Day 2021

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Created in 2004, the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN) gathers 246 cities worldwide, that have recognized culture and creativity as strategic enablers for the achievement of sustainable urban development under the 2030 Agenda. The vision of harnessing the transformative power of culture and creativity in different facets of urban governance is the driving force behind the UCCN. The cultural assets and creative vibrancy of each member city are covered under seven creative fields of the Network, namely: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Media Arts, and Music.

With the aims to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to increase the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard at local and international levels, the 30th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1999 proclaimed 21 March as World Poetry Day. As a part of the 2021 global celebration of World Poetry Day, the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature, coordinated by the city of Granada (Spain), will undertake a joint celebration themed “Reconnecting People”.

Recognizing the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirits of people around the globe, this year’s celebration echoes the objectives of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network and fosters synergies between literature and other artistic fields. Through this celebration, cities world-wide honor their local poets, promote reading, writing and teaching of poetry, as well as raise awareness about the power of literature and poetry for sustainable and inclusive societies.

UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature have demonstrated their inventiveness and creativity in organizing collaborative and individual events and activities. Member cities are supporting and offering visibility to their local literary talents while sharing a message of solidarity, hope and resilience to their inhabitants amidst the current pandemic.

The various World Poetry Day 2021 celebratory initiatives undertaken by the UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature include:

Baghdad (Iraq)

Through “Poetry Brings Us Together”, the city aims to strengthen social ties and offer a sense of community in times of lockdown and social distancing by sharing short videos featuring local and international poets


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Bucheon (Republic of Korea)

From 15 to 21 March, Bucheon will organize the “Poetry Therapy Week” showcasing 7 poems from 7 local women poets, related to the theme of “Reconnecting People”. The initiative intends to leverage the healing power of poetry during isolation caused by the current pandemic. 

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Dunedin (New Zealand)

Dunedin in partnership with the local poet Liz Breslin, will organize “Primary Possibilities” workshops for primary school children aged 6 to 8 years old. The workshops aim to engage children from 7 primary schools to foster awareness of poetry as a tool for creative expression.

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Edinburgh (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

As a part of the celebration, the city will launch a social media campaign “Poetry Path” to highlight and connect poems from Edinburgh’s rich literary history. Each poem featured in the initiative will be interlinked, either through its theme, or with interesting trivia about the poet. On 21 March a digital poetry path is also foreseen to be established that will link some of the city’s oldest poetry with contemporary work and take the reader on an online walk of words.



In addition to coordinating UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature’s celebration of the 2021 World Poetry Day, Granada will also organize an outdoor public event with over 50 local poets reading their literary pieces, in line with the theme “Reconnecting People” while also being broadcasted live on the city’s YouTube Channel. A parallel event will also be held at the University of Granada, titled “Granada Slam Poetry”, inviting 10 poets to present their literary creations to a live audience. 

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Heidelberg (Germany)

As part of the “Bei Anruf: Poesie” initiative (Poetry by dial), 17 poets from Heidelberg will call poetry lovers via phone across the city and the region to read their own poems aloud. The initiative aims to link inhabitants to poets to allow a few minutes of solace in these trying times. 


For more information

Link 1 Link 2

Iowa City (United States of America)

The city will establish a Spotify playlist of poets reading their work and rework a walking tour of literary Iowa City to highlight poetry-related stops. These playlists will be accessible to anyone and will be shared on the city’s website..


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Krakow (Poland)

To mark the celebration of World Poetry Day and pay tribute to local poets, Krakow will organize a set of activities including a video message from a local poet, the launch of a new artist residency, online literary workshops, projections of poetry on walls around the city, as well as recording of readings by inhabitants.

Kuhmo (Finland)

Kuhmo will launch a cycle of videos featuring local poets and showcasing their poems, attitudes, and influence on the world. The videos will be available in both the Finnish and English and will be published on the Kuhmo City of Literature YouTube channel.


Ljubljana (Slovenia)

Ljubljana will make a 3-hour video featuring 21 poets, each reading one of their original poems and another of their choosing. In addition, the city’s traditional World Poetry Day 24-hour poetry reading marathon is foreseen to take place in September.

Lviv (Ukraine)

The city will organize poetry reading spaces in four local libraries and surrounding areas around the theme ‘Reconnecting’. This online marathon will be broadcast on Lviv’s City of Literature and Central Library System websites and social media, respectively.

Manchester (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

The city, together with the Manchester Poetry Library, will create a film featuring poets reading their creative pieces, focusing on the theme of “Doors as portals of hope”. The readings will be delivered from iconic doorways around the city, celebrating its longstanding vibrant poetry scene.   


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Milan (Italy)

The city’s project “Poeti in parallel – Poetas en paralelo” (Poets in parallel) will gather over 60 poets from various backgrounds and age groups from Cuba, Italy and Spain. The poets will be paired to offer readings of one poem each, in their mother tongues. The readings are combined with projections of images or video art, inspired by the characteristics of the work of each author, thus creating a collection of poetic videos.

For more information

Link 1 Link 2

Nanjing (People’s Republic of China)

Nanjing will organize a roundtable of poets, critics, publishers and translators on March 21, to “reconnect people” from different literary sectors and professions. To further encourage poetry interactions and expressions, parallel events are also foreseen in various literary attractions across the city, including bookshops, schools, museums and tourist attractions.


Nottingham (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)

The city in cooperation with the Nottingham Trent University (NTU) will celebrate World Poetry Day with the launch of the poetry anthology 'The Story of Us', produced by members of the NTU extracurricular Writing Reading and Pleasure (WRAP) programme. The anthology will explore the connections between the past, present and future in poems reflecting on love and loss, family and faith, time and hope. From 1 to 21 March, WRAP will share each day a poem and videos from all their writers who have written these poems as part of the creative writing workshops exploring the past, present and future, while writing new worlds into existence.

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Obidos (Portugal) 

The city developed a one-month programme to promote local and international poetry to its local community. These include poetry recitation by both the local community and professional actors, workshops dedicated to children, radio programs and podcasts, inauguration of literary residencies and a new public library and story centre.

For more information

Link 1 Link 2

Odessa (Ukraine)

Odessa will celebrate World Poetry Day as part of its online International Literature and Musical Festival titled "Music of the Word" from 19 to 22 March. With the aim of creating new synergies between music and literature sectors, the Festival will include various activities ranging from poetry recitation, literary and musical concerts, to poetry excursions, amongst others. 

Quebec (Canada)

Together with the “Maison de la literature” (Literature house), the city will issue a special edition of its literary podcast focusing on “Awakening of the nature”. Under the name “Amuse-bouches, special poésie”, the podcast will feature poems, performed by local comedians with original music. The podcast can be accessed here:  


For more information

Link 1  Link 2

Reykjavik (Iceland)

For 2021, Reykjavik has adopted a special focus on poetry. In line with the strategic focus, the city will continue to highlight local and Icelandic contemporary poetry and translation in particular. On this occasion, poetry videos, a new podcast series as well as a poetry cafe are foreseen to be organized. 

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Seattle (United States of America)

Together with its Civic Poet and the local collective “Womxn of Color”, Seattle will celebrate World Poetry Day with poetry readings, online performances and discussions, to explore the intersectionality of women’s health, healing and natural ecosystems.

Tartu (Estonia)

An online poetry event combining premieres of pre-recorded poetry reading videos by local writers and common poetry videos will be held in Tartu. Through a participatory approach, the city invites people from all over the world to record a poem and send it to the city, of which a selection will be posted via a dedicated Facebook page on 21 March. 

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Ulyanovsk (Russian Federation)

Ulyanovsk will launch the “Poems by e-mail” project to promote the unifying role of poetry. The project will invite people from the country to fill in a short online form to receive a collection of poems on World Poetry Day. The first 150 applicants will receive via e-mail a poem selected by literature students based in the city.



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Utrecht (Netherlands)

Under the theme “Polyphony”, Utrecht along with 11 other UNESCO Creative Cities of Literature (Edinburgh, Dunedin, Melbourne, Durban, Manchester, Nottingham, Wonju, Bucheon, Odessa, Ulyanovsk and Heidelberg), will come together to create a collaborative poem over a year. The Utrecht Poet Yentl van Stokkum will make the first contribution to this joint project on World Poetry Day. Subsequently, every 21st of the month, 3 new lines will be added to the literary piece by a poet from another participating Creative City of Literature.

Wonju (Republic of Korea)

As a part of the celebration, and in line with the theme ‘Reconnecting People’, 5 active local poets will record their recitation of the poems in Korean. Each of the recitations will be uploaded each day for five days, along with the illustrated poems on the city’s Facebook page in Korean and English.




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