Don’t you hate it when an important day sneaks up on you? Like those birthdays, anniversaries and holidays that you almost forget about until they are nearly on top of you? Well, today an important date almost streaked right past me. I must say that I would have been quite embarrassed if I’d let today, April 23rd, pass without informing both of my EEOTPB readers that today is, in fact, “World Book and Copyright Day”. Wow, how could I have missed that one on my calendar? Ok, it’s hardly up there with Christmas, Easter, and my wife’s birthday, but it is important nonetheless.
World Book and Copyright Day (how about WBACD from hereon), is now in its fourteenth year and comes to us courtesy of UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific & Cultural Organization). The goal of WBACD is, in the words of UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova:
“Our goal is clear – to encourage authors and artists and to ensure that more women and men benefit from literacy and accessible formats, because books are our most powerful forces of poverty eradication and peace building. ”
Interestingly, the April 23rd date was selected because of the great number of literary icons who were either born on this date, or died on this date. In what can only be described as an astounding coincidence, this date in the year 1616 saw the death of William Shakespeare (April 23rd also being the dayof the great Bard’s birth as well); the great Incan chronicler and writer, Inca Garcilaso de la Vega; and the renowned Spanish author, Miguel de Cervantes (although his date of death is officially listed as being on April 22nd).
In more recent times, April 23rd is the date of either the birth, or of death, of a number of other famous writers, notably French novelist Maurice Druon, who was born on this day in 1918; Icelandic author, and 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Halldor Laxness, who was born on April 23rd back in 1902. The great Russian novelist Vladmir Nabakov narrowly missed the April 23rd distinction by being born a day earlier on April 22nd, while Spanish journalist and author, Josep Pla died on this date back in 1981.
Each year UNESCO, in conjunction with the International Publishers Association and the International Federation Of Libraries and Institutions, selects a World Book Capital, which for 2014 is the Nigerian delta city, of Port Harcourt, capital of River State, Nigeria.
So there you have it. Head on over to Port Harcourt if you wish, or just crack one open right where you are and drink a toast to “World Book and Copyright Day”.
Now, back to work on the poetry book…