Celebrating World Poetry Day in Sunderland

Written by on 21st March 2024

Established in 1999, March 21 is World Poetry Day, a day dedicated to celebrating poetry in all its forms the world over. 

According to the UNESCO website, World Poetry Day serves to honour poets and to promote the reading, writing and teaching of poetry of all kinds. And, here in Sunderland, we have a long history of competent, capable, well-spoken poets.  

When asked about some of his favourites, James Whitman, a local writer based in Sunderland, said: “My favourite local writers are probably Iain Rowan and Helen Wilko. Iain’s prose is so versatile, funny, and deliciously eerie. From Helen, I love the flow, passion and emotional integrity of her poetry.”  

As well as writing, James is also involved with Sunderland-based community groups like King Ink, which meets on the second Thursday of every month from 6 to 9 at Pop Recs, a cafe and venue.  

And, when asked about the best way to celebrate World Poetry Day, he said: “The best way to celebrate Mackem writers on World Poetry Day is to support them at local poetry and spoken word nights like King Ink, buy their work and rave about them online to anyone who will listen.” 

Alistair Robinson, another local writer and lecturer at Sunderland University spoke to Spark about the importance and prevalence of poetry today, as well as how it maintains relevance even today. 

He said: “There’s a tendency for people to think poetry to be decorative, for it to be additional. But it’s always relevant.

It can get to the heart of big events, the aspects of something that other forms of writing might not be able to.”  

Alistair is an established writer with years of experience and collections of published poems, collections such as ‘As Blind As Rain’, which can be found and purchased online from Red Squirrel Press. 

He went on to say: “Poetry has a kind of forensic gaze on the world. It finds the magical in the mundane. It draws our attention to things that we might not see in that same forensic light.

Current track