Celebrating World Poetry Day

Posted by Rebecca on March 21, 2016

A YU Perspective

An open book of poetry with a rose lying in the middle

Happy World Poetry Day! Today, the art of poetry is being celebrated all around the globe. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) is responsible for declaring March 21 World Poetry Day, in an effort to “encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media.” Hats off to you, United Nations!

Poetry is a unique art form because it uses a small amount of carefully selected words to inspire a greater message. It reminds me of the saying, “Good things come in small packages.” Poets write about love, struggle, loss, redemption and more in an attempt to capture human emotions in their most precise form. When I read poems, I have a sense of enchantment as the right words work together to help me create meaning out of what’s currently happening in my life (both good and bad). Whether you’ve just had your heart broken or are going through a tough time, you can bet there is a poem out there that has put your feelings into words.

Because I am an English major, it is perhaps unsurprising that I like poetry, although I seldom find the time to read it. In my Creative Writing class, we’re currently reading (and writing!) a lot of poems, and they have created a nest in my heart. Even if poetry is not your go-to reading material, the best part is that there are tons of poems (both old and modern) out there that might just pique your interest if you let them. Poetry can seem daunting at first, but to offset your fears, try to enjoy the music of the poem. Verses tend to follow a certain kind of rhythm that you can appreciate.

For newcomers and old friends of poetry alike, I’ve rounded up a few recommendations from York students to help you get into the spirit of today!

  1. “La Reina” (The Queen) by Pablo Neruda Rebecca, 2nd year, English
    To refresh some of my writing skills, I decided to branch out and read more poetry. I’d heard rave reviews of Neruda’s poems before, so I decided to check out his collection Love Poems. I was not disappointed! Neruda has a very passionate, tender and sensual way of writing that really takes his poems to a new level. I love “La Reina” because he uses simple language to describe something everyone can relate to the feeling of not being noticed, or of feeling a little lost. We usually forget about the person(s) in our lives who see all our faults and yet still love us, much like the speaker in the poem. I also recently discovered one of his sonnets, Sonnet XVII, which is a close second! Margaret Avison’s “July Man” is also a great one can you tell I had a hard time choosing just one poem? ?
  2. “humanity i love you” by e.e. cummings  Larissa, 4th year, Human Rights and Equity Studies and Sociology double major
    e.e. cummings (yes, the lowercase is intentional!) has always been one of my favourites, but he earned first-place status once I read his poem “humanity i love you.” His use of sarcasm caught my attention, seeing as I consider myself to be sarcastic by nature, but his use of contradictions to convey his concern for humanity moved me. I can always appreciate someone who can see the deeper meaning behind humanity, which cummings attempts to reveal in his poem. He stresses the need to look beyond the surface level of humanity and realize that there are deep-rooted concerns that need to be addressed if we want to prosper. I have always loved cummings for his beautiful writing techniques and his poetic use of lowercase letters to identify himself with, but my love grew even more upon reading this poem.
  3.  “Relativity and ‘Physics’ of Love” by Michael Burch, based on quotes by Albert Einstein Rohit, 4th year, Information and Technology
    I really like this poem because it makes us think through the question of objective truth that many of us believe science to be. I can’t help but admit that there are forces in this universe that science has yet to unveil and perhaps never understand. So an Einstein could explain the laws of physics to an average person because they carry truth. There is evidence, and the language of the universe can be proven both mathematically and by experiments. Yet the concept of love cannot be mathematically shown, calculated, measured or proven, so that in a million years an average person wouldn’t be able to explain what love is to an Einstein. I particularly find the first verse a bit humorous, because Google tells me love is caused by the combination of three neurochemicals: phenylethylamine, norepinephrine and dopamine.
  4. Quote by Marianne Williamson – Clivane, 4th year, Individualized Studies (Communications)
    The link above is to a quote by Marianne Williamson, and it technically isn’t a poem. It’s a passage from her book A Return to Love. But for me, it causes the same effect as a poem does. It makes me pause and reflect. It makes me feel empowered, inspired and powerful. My favourite line is, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” This quote reminds me that I am allowed to be proud of my accomplishments, confident about my skills and unapologetic about my awesomeness. I believe the best kind of poetry expresses ideas, thoughts and emotions, except for me, this passage is special because it conveys one of my core values: empowerment.
  5. “Whatever it is you’re seeking won’t come in the form you’re expecting.” — a quote from Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami Sam, 4th year, Communication Studies
    Granted, this may not be poetry, but it’s something that has always resonated with me. I’m a huge fan of Haruki Murakami, and since reading this passage in his novel Kafka on the Shore, I’d like to think that I have applied a much more open-minded approach to all aspects of my life. I would explain the quote in detail, but it’s really quite simple, and that’s why I like it. It’s short, self-explanatory and easy to remember.

Do you have any poems that resonate with you? Let us know in the comments or tweet us @yorkustudents!

And speaking of @yorkustudents: Keep an eye on that account today as we’ll be presenting a series of haiku written by York students and staff on the topic of “York moments.” Here’s one to whet your appetite:

Image of geese overlayed with text.


Rebecca M. is a third-year English major. She no longer blogs regularly for the YU Blog but may post on occasion as a guest-blogger.

See other posts by Rebecca