Poetry Day passes silently in Malawi


The World Poetry Day was commemorated Tuesday but in Malawi the day was more like any other day without any works of poetry showcase.

The World Poetry Day which falls on March 21 every year is an initiative by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco).

Unesco declared this day in 1999 with the purpose of among others, promoting reading, writing, publishing and teaching of poetry throughout the world.


According to available information, Unesco through this day also aims at giving fresh recognition and impetus to national, regional and international poetry movements.

The day however, passed silently in Malawi without any activities although poetry has gained ground in the country of late.

Poetry Association of Malawi (Pam) spokesperson Sylvester Kalizang’oma while admitting that they did not hold any activities noted that there was a show recently in Blantyre which celebrated the works of poetry.


“Of course it could have been better to hold activities on March 21 but you should also take into account that the day falled on a working day and so it was still difficult. Again we had a poetry show just recently in Blantyre and we also have shows this coming weekend in Lilongwe and Blantyre,” said the ‘Unkalindanji Moyo’ star.

Kalizang’oma who made history in November last year launching the first ever DVD of his Unkalindanji Moyo album said despite being silent on the day, poets on social media discussing poetry, the challenges and how they could improve it.

“The day passed silently but we were not silent, discussed different issues through the social media and for instance we looked at the issue of royalties for poets,” he said.

Kalizang’oma said poets have done well so far with their poems being featured on different poetry programmes in some of the local radio stations but there were still no royalties.

“I think were Copyright society of Malawi (Cosoma) needs to consider us on this and we are ready to engage them. At the moment it seems royalties are only for musicians,” said the poet.

He also said that they want to enrich the art by bringing poets together and that poetry feasts should bring on bold spoken word as well poetry in English.

“We want the audience not only to appreciate poetry in the local language but poetry in English as well. There has also been criticism from people on poets reciting by reading from books but by and by we need to start memorizing,” said Kalizang’oma.

Some poets in other countries yesterday sent in different messages as regards the poetry day.

Another poet Paul Sezzie said yesterday that while there were no activities on the ground, poets still value this day.

“Poetry in Malawi is making progress but then the biggest challenge is support. We need support from the corporate world. We are not only talking about poetry but arts as a whole. Poetry is there and we have several programmes in most of the local radio stations,” he said.

Sezzie said that the corporate world can come in and support awards for poets.

Spoken word poet Q Malewezi, who has represented the country in different international festivals yesterday, released a video of his latest album People as part of celebrating poetry day.

Q will be launching his People album at Bingu International Conference Centre in Lilongwe on April 2.

“Many people do not know about World Poetry Day and even poets. So there is need for more awareness on this. It all needs to start with poets themselves before going out there,” he said.

The poet said he was happy that he will be launching his latest album on April 2 and that this will also be part of celebrating the World Poetry Day.

“This could have been the day when even poets were honoured but all this trickles down to making it work as poets,” said Q.

On March 21 in other countries, government agencies, educators, community groups and individuals get involved in promoting or participating in the day.

World Poetry Day is an opportunity even for children to be introduced to poetry in classrooms and in other countries it is a time when classrooms are busy with lessons related to poetry, in which students examine poets and learn about different types of poetry.

Poets in other countries were even invited to read and share their work to audiences at book stores, cafes, universities and schools on the day.

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