World Poetry Day has come and gone two days ago, and I’ve only just clicked on that it was happening! Their misson statement is so relevant to the way poetry engages with the world:
‘(Poetry) is a social need, which incites young people in particular to return to their roots, and a means whereby they can look into themselves at a time when the outside world is irresistibly luring them away from themselves.’
This is interesting regarding the littering of media in our lives, and also this competition that I’ve discovered through Manchester Children’s Book Festival, Mother Tongue Other Tongue.
Returning to your roots or laying down new routes into languages could be a summary of the aims of MTOT. The mother tongue part of the competition is designed for children whose first language is not English, allowing them to explore creatively their first language, the other tongue part is for children learning a second language, to allow them to creatively explore this new facility. I went to the welcome event last Monday for this competition and it was exciting to hear people talking about language in this exploratory way, opening up ideas about translation, how we communicate, how identity can be explored through language.
I will be trying to come up with a workshop to deliver in schools, hopefully accessing some of the potential of language to link us to our identities, reclaiming the inner world that UNESCO suggests is being eroded.
‘Poetry is also the place where the profound link between cultural diversity and linguistic diversity is forged. The language of poetry, with its sounds, metaphors and grammar, stands as a barrier against the deterioration of the world’s languages and cultures. By exploring the great potential of language, poetic creativity enriches intercultural dialogue, the guarantor of peace.’ UNESCO Director-General’s Message 2012