Celebrate World Poetry Day 2023 with these festivals in Asia and Europe
Held every year on 21 March, World Poetry Day celebrates one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity. UNESCO first adopted 21 March as World Poetry Day in 1999, with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.
World Poetry Day is the occasion to honour poets, revive oral traditions of poetry recitals, promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry, foster the convergence between poetry and other arts, and raise the visibility of poetry in the media. What better way to do this than through poetry festivals.
Therefore, to mark World Poetry Day, here at ASEF culture360 we are rounding up some of the must-see poetry festivals in 2023 across Asia and Europe. A sub-category of literature festivals, these festivals put poetry at the heart of their programming. Although these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to festivals, it shows that poetry is thriving in Asia and Europe.
European Poetry Festival, UK
19 April – 11 May 2023
The European Poetry Festival (EPF) returns to London, Norwick, Kingston upon Thames and Liverpool in spring 2023 to celebrate European poetry. A total of 11 events over 3 weeks will see over one hundred poets from across the continent and the UK come together for a celebration of liveness, collaboration and cross-linguistic collective inventiveness. The European Poetry Festival has involved over 1,000 poets from across the continent since its inception in 2018. Improvisation, performance and experiment is encouraged, specifically in the environment of the live event. At the centre of all this is a celebration of collaboration. In 2023 featured poets come from Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Catalonia, Denmark, Flanders, the Netherlands, Latvia and more.
Queensland Poetry Festival, Australia
20–22 April 2023
The 2023 Queensland Poetry festival will be held in Meanjin/Brisbane 20–22 April 2023. The theme for the 2023 festival – ‘Story/Verse’ – concentrates on poetry’s connections to story. Does poetry engage with storytelling? What kinds of stories does it tell? How do poets make poems that express the experience of their worlds, of their histories, and the histories and experiences of others? The main venue is the State Library of Queensland.
Cork International Poetry Festival, Ireland
16–20 May 2023
The Cork International Poetry Festival is organised by the Munster Literature Centre and is an annual poetry festival in Cork. Established as a spring literary festival in 1993 by The Munster Literature Centre, the festival has grown into an international poetry festival offering competitions, awards and fellowships.
Poetry International, Netherlands
9–11 June 2023
In 2023 the 53rd Poetry International in Rotterdam will celebrate poetry, with poets from all over the world and accessible events. Attendees can discover a world full of poetry that experiments, confronts and inspires, with readings, special thematic events, talkshows, films, workshops, poetry tours and afterparties. There will be poetry everywhere, live from the hearts of the festival at LantarenVenster and Verhalenhuis Belvédère. The festival also has prizes, poets-in-residence, school programmes and the online poetry archives.
Poetry Festival Singapore
Poetry Festival Singapore, formerly known as National Poetry Festival, offers a multilingual, multicultural, multi-generational platform for poets and poetry enthusiasts. Poetry Festival Singapore aims also to develop the written and spoken word in the island’s 4 official languages and to organise events and activities related to the literary arts. The organisers also hold a national poetry competition and workshops.
Bengaluru Poetry Festival, India
The Bengaluru Poetry Festival, established in 2016, is the city’s only literary event dedicated to poetry. Organised by the not-for-profit Bengaluru Poetry Festival trust, the festival has seen participation from over 400 poets, musicians, lyricists and performers and the programming has included individual performances, panel discussions, workshops and readings. The festival was conceptualised, when the founders of the festival realised that while poetry as a form of self-expression was gaining immense popularity, and Indian poets, and poetry were increasingly being recognised the world over, there were limited opportunities available for poets within existing literary festival platforms.
Druskininkai Poetic Fall, Lithuania
27 September–1 October 2023
Druskininkai Poetic Fall is an international annual literary festival, organised in Druskininkai and Vilnius. It is a laboratory festival, aimed primarily at poets, critics, literary scholars and publishers, as well as a general public. The main goal of the festival is to bring together the community of poets, give them conditions for sharing their work, reflect on and evaluate their texts, and identify the changes in the current trends. About 120 poets, translators, literature critics, writers have been part of this international event. Poets from all over the world have visited the festival, including from Japan, Korea, Pakistan, Australia and almost all European countries have been part of the festival.
Shanghai International Poetry Festival
The annual Shanghai International Poetry Festival features a number of activities such as forums, cultural exchanges and poetry reading events. It also promotes cultural exchanges between Chinese and foreign poets, and consolidates their friendships. There is also a Golden Magnolia International Poetry Award.