Poetry – the Language of Bridges

Poetry has never been the language of barriers, it’s always been the language of bridges.

/Amanda Gorman/

Have you ever had a coffee with a poet? I have, thanks to Rita – my Portuguese eTwinning partner from Almada. When participating in the Erasmus+ Programme, together with Idoia from the Basque Country, we were invited by Rita to visit Lisbon, which turned out to be a really poetic experience. Having climbed up to São Jorge Castle not only could we admire the breathtaking views of Lisbon bathed in the November sunshine, but we could also read a poem devoted to Lisbon written by Sophia de Mello Breyner, inscribed in three languages on stone benches. What a great idea! On the way back, we had a coffee with Fernando Pessoa while Rita was sharing interesting information concerning both poets.

Coffee with Fernando Pessoa; Image by Katarzyna Siwczak, CC BY.

Our interest in international poetry is not incidental; on the contrary, we are currently using it in COMP@SS,  our eTwinning project, to build bridges between our students. To teach emotions and about emotions we are using poems that are read, analysed, translated, illustrated but also created by our students and it is working perfectly well since, as Leonardo da Vinci said it, ‘poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.’

Feeling Poetry

21st March was proclaimed by UNESCO, during the 30th General Conference in Paris in 1999, as World Poetry Day ‘with the aim of supporting linguistic diversity through poetic expression and increasing the opportunity for endangered languages to be heard.’

Why don’t you contribute to the celebrations by using poetry in your classroom? There are numerous tools educators can apply to make students FEEL poetry. What about the following ideas:

  • illustrating a chosen poem with AI by using Autodraw
  • creating a sonnet, with this poem generator,  to honor William Shakespeare
  • using Verse by Verse to create a poem inspired by one of the great American poets
  • creating a limerick, a haiku or another poem of emotions with Poem of Quotes

On Europeana you can find a lot of resources devoted to the topics of poems, poets and poetry, including the blog post I enjoyed reading a lot – Poetry in the City, presenting the Dutch tradition of displaying poems on walls. Moreover,  Europeana educators offer some ready-to use learning scenarios that will enrich your students’ knowledge of poetry and develop their creativity. Check out the following ones for inspiration:

A Coffee with a Poet?

Definitely! The year 2023 has been declared in Poland The Year of Szymborska as she would have celebrated her 100th birthday on 2nd July. Wisława Szymborska, awarded with the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1996 for ‘poetry that with ironic precision allows the historical and biological context to come to light in fragments of human reality,’ is one of my most favourite Polish poets. Thus, a coffee with Szymborska is a must this year! By the way, coffee was the poetess’s preferred drink so I can highly recommend it while reading, for example, ‘Nothing Twice” – one of my favourite poems.

And what about your recommendations? Which poet should I have a coffee with while visiting your country? What are your favourite poems? I am looking forward to reading your comments containing the suggestions.

By Katarzyna Siwczak, Europeana Education Ambassador

Public Domain Mark 1.0: the featured image used to illustrate this article has been found on Europeana and has been provided by the National Museum in Warsaw.

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