21 March 2015

A LITTLE EXTRA | iObserve for World Poetry Day

"If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold, no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry." Jane Austen

Poetry in its various forms means and communicates a myriad of things and ideas. By our creative attempts and responses to it, it can be seen as an entity that continuously reiterates the connection in our humanity and universal emotions. Today, March 21 is the World Poetry Day, designated by UNESCO to celebrate and promote the culture of reading, writing, and teaching of poetry globally. For poets and readers, today is just another day to bask in the shade that beautiful words can weave. But how about observing the Day with a little extra?

One of the objectives of World Poetry Day is to support and explore the power of languages and linguistic diversity through poetry and to allow obscure languages the chance to be known and heard in and outside their communities. There are 521 languages spoken in Nigeria, nine of which are now extinct.
To observe this International Day, delve out of your comfort zone by writing a poem in your mother tongue or any indigenous language you are fluent in and share it online or in print. You can even compile a collection with fellow poets. This is not only creatively challenging but will also help you explore your roots.

A poet is the conscience of his/her nation. With the above idea, you may use pressing national issues as a theme for your poems. For example, the upcoming presidential elections, Boko Haram, the missing Chibok girls, etc. These poems can be written in English however, if the mother tongue concept does not appeal to you.
If you are not a poet, but rather a reader, you are not left out. How about a little experiment on how people respond to poetry in its different forms? Try these;

  • Approach a friend, family member or random friendly stranger, and pick a poem
  • Read the poem to them
  • Give them the poem to read, then ask what the poem meant to them and whether they connected with the poem when they read it personally or when you read it to them. 

You should have a lot of interesting responses. World Poetry Day comes up once in a year, lets make it count. Bend those words. Be innovative.

Opeyemi Rasak-Oyadiran is an avid reader, poet, short story writer and essayist, although not necessarily in that order. An activist for the entitlement of every child, male or female to education, she is a member of UN Observance Community, Write Paragraphs, and works to promote the messages of the UN International Days. She's studying Law at Olabisi Onabanjo University. Connect with her on Twitter @ropheeha6.

#Observe is a citizen-driven platform which features anyone willing to share tips on how to celebrate any of the United Nations International Days and act on the message, or talk on what they are doing in honour of any of the Days. To get featured on this platform for World Tuberculosis Day, and International Day for the Right to the Truth concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victims (24th March, 2015), International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and Transatlantic Slave Trade (25th March, 2015), send your #iObserve article to writeparagraphs@gmail.com

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