The World Poetry Movement (WPM) held its historic 1st World Congress in two vibrant South American cities, Medellín, Colombia, and Caracas, Venezuela. The WPM, a coordination of international poetry festivals, projects, and poets from over 170 countries, gathered for a face-to-face meeting after conducting four virtual congresses in Africa, Asia, Europe, and America earlier in 2023.
The Congress kicked off in Medellín on July 13, 2023, with a warm welcome from poet Fernando Rendón, the WPM General Coordinator. He emphasised the significance of poetry in preserving human dignity and promoting intercultural dialogue in a world facing various challenges. Poets from 70 countries joined the Congress, along with hundreds of local poets from Colombia and Venezuela.
The theme of advancing poetry’s power for social change echoed throughout the event. Each continental coordinator presented reports on the work done, challenges faced, and recommendations to address societal issues using poetry as a platform. The reports highlighted the importance of poetry in promoting creativity, social justice, and a sense of community.
One of the notable moments of the Congress was the tribute to Jack Hirschman, the co-founder of WPM. Fernando Rendón and other poets honoured him with heartfelt poems and a presentation of framed portraits.
The Congress also marked the presentation of the WPM Strategic Plan (2023-2028). The plan aims to promote poetry and dialogue between cultures, foster creativity, and work with social institutions and communities to bring poetry to the forefront of social change. The plan’s values emphasize freedom of expression, cultural diversity, world peace, and environmental sustainability.
A coordinating committee comprising representatives from each continent and an operational committee were formed to implement the strategic plan. Fernando Rendón urged the participants to act in harmony, agreement, and full consciousness to ensure its success. He emphasised the urgent need to establish a world school of poetry in each country and collaborate with progressive and friendly governments for unprecedented support.
The Congress then moved to Caracas, Venezuela, after a flight journey from Medellín. Freddy Ñáñez, Vice President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, welcomed the participants with a heartfelt message from President Nicolás Maduro, who appreciates the importance of poetry in their country.
Moderator Ana María Oviedo reported on the actions taken in Medellín to implement the Strategic Plan; importantly, the plan was approved during the Caracas meetings. Fernando Rendón proposed to replicate the world school of poetry in each country and emphasized the importance of working with agreements and responsibility in implementing the plan.
The Congress concluded by establishing the WPM International Coordinating Committee and Operating Committee, which will link and give visibility to the global efforts of the WPM.
The WPM International Coordinating Committee has Poet Nimrod Bena, Tarek El Tayeb, Dr Ayo Ayoola-Amale, Siphiwe Nzima, Ashraf Aboul-Yazid, and Achour Fenni in Africa; Poet Rati Saxena, Keshab Sigdel, Vadim Terekhin, Jidi Majia and Ali Al Ameri for Asia; and Poet Francis Combes, Anna Lombardo, Ataol Behramoglu, Luis Filipe Sarmento, and Sandor Halmosi in Europe. Other members included Poet Alex Pausides, Freddy Ñañez, Agneta Falk, Oscar Saavedra, and Rosa Chávez- Maribel Mora for America. Poet Vaughan Rapatahana and Sue Zhu for Oceania.
The Operating Committee is constituted as follows: Fernando Rendón, Gloria Chvatal (WPM Communications Director), Freddy Ñáñez, Francis Combes, Rati Saxena, Anna Lombardo, Vadim Terekhin, Keshab Sigdel, Achour Fenni, and Siphiwe Nzima.
The 1st WPM World Congress in Medellín and Caracas served as a significant step towards realising the power of poetry as a tool for positive change in the world. Poets from different continents joined hands, uniting their voices to promote creativity, social justice, and unity while striving to make the world a better place through the universal language of poetry.