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Universal Rigths to Poetry

An interview with Bernard Friot

  |   TOPICS: Awards
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Much loved by a wide audience and translated into many languages, Bernard Friot - poet, writer and translator - is our guest on World Poetry Day, at an event organised within the framework of the2021 BolognaRagazzi Award’s special Poetry category, whose winners will be announced at the Bologna Children's Book Fair (14-17 June).  

Language is Friot’s playground. He writes in French, German, Italian and English. In 2019, Friot was awarded Italy’s Andersen Prize as “Protagonista della cultura per l’infanzia” (“Key Player in Culture for Children”). Putting himself at the service of both children and poetry, Friot ensures books go from one child to another, from class to class, and are taken from library shelves to go home with children.   

Friot’s contribution to poetry has been enormous. He has brought poetry to children, giving adults too many insights into the genre. His manifesto “Universal Rights to Poetry has been translated into several languages and is disclosed here for the first time to celebrate the special Poetry category of the BolognaRagazzi Awardin acknowledgement of the wealth of poetry books produced in recent years by the children’s publishing industry worldwide.  

Interviewed by Petra Paoli, Accademia Drosselmeier and Odeon Studio  

Translator Alessandra Valtieri   


Everyone has the right to be recognized as a poet, because every human being is endowed with a poetic relationship to language. No institution, no group of self-declared or co-opted poets can refuse this title to one who wishes to obtain it.

Everyone has the right to experience poetry as the easiest, freest and therefore most democratic literary genre. Scholarly speeches on poetry—however interesting and necessary they may be—should not be misused to reserve poetry for an elite.

Everyone has the right to judge what is or isn’t poetry to them, because a text becomes poetry only when it is read as such.

Everyone has the right to learn how to read poetry in a free and creative way. A poem can be read aloud or silently, alone or with others, in its entirety or in fragments, can be sung, illustrated, imitated, modified, copied… Reading is an act as creative as writing and it is up to the reader to decide how they want to interpret the poem.

Everyone has the right to access poetry for free through a diversified offer: libraries, posters, live or broadcast public readings, Internet broadcastings, etc.

Everyone has the right to access the poetic heritage linked to their language or languages of origin and first and foremost the repertoire of mainstream poetry which constitutes one of the essential elements of a common culture.

Everyone has the right to know about the poetic heritage of all cultures because in all languages poetry speaks of the common human experience. Therefore, it is the duty of local, national and international cultural institutions to promote exchanges, meetings, poetry translation, and the dissemination of poetry in all languages.

Everyone has the right to be initiated to poetic writing as part of a pedagogy that does not impose models but helps everyone find their unique poetic voice.

Everyone has the right to know and use language’s poetic resources  beyond the scope of poems, both in speaking and in writing, for instance in fiction, theater, advertisement, songs, political speeches.

Everyone has the right to refuse, criticize and mock poetry on the sole condition that they respect sincerely those who do not share their opinion.


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