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On February 14, SGI-Gulf hosted its second annual poetry symposium, "The Poetic Heart: Connecting Humanity," at the Dubai Knowledge Village in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The event was held in association with Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City.
Seven international poets recited pieces on the themes of world peace, universal harmony and environmental protection in their native languages of Arabic, English, Italian, Persian, Malayalam, and Japanese. Over 360 people, including dignitaries, artists and junior high and high school students from some 20 schools attended the event.
Dr. Francesca Corrao from Italy, Dr. Qais Ghanem and Mr. Talal Al Sabiri from the UAE, Mrs. Silvana Salmanpour from Iran and Mr. Chemmanum Chacko from India were among the poets who took the stage. Poetry by SGI President Daisaku Ikeda was also read by Dr. Akash K. Ouchi, SGI representative to South Asia and the Middle East.
In an effort to nurture the poetic spirit among youth, students were encouraged to submit poems which were judged by a panel of poets. Among the 87 individuals who submitted poems, two female students, Menatalla Hany Mohamed in grade 11 and Aditi Naik in grade 10, were selected to recite their poems on stage.
The symposium commenced with welcome remarks by Dr. Ayoub Kazim, executive director of Dubai Knowledge Village and Dubai International Academic City, and Mr. Rakesh Tharoor, general director of SGI-Gulf. Dr. Ouchi also delivered a message sent by Mr. Ikeda for the occasion in which he highlighted the instrumental role that poetry plays in shaping a more harmonious society.
Guests of Honor Dr. Shihab Ghanem, Emirati poet and recipient of the Tagore Peace Award who supervised the translation of Mr. Ikeda's book The World Is Yours to Change into Arabic, and Mr. Sami Yusuf, world renowned singer-songwriter and philanthropist based in the UAE, initiated the reading with poems and thoughts on the uniting power of poetry. The event also featured musical performances by Dr. Nizar Ghanem on the oud and Mr. Jason Carter on harp-guitar. related article The Ongakutai Soka Renaissance Vanguard in competition (Tokyo, January 2004) The Music Corps (Ongakutai) was founded in Japan as a part of the Soka Gakkai in May 1954. As the group celebrates its 50th anniversary, it looks back on a history of remarkable development. Originally composed of a handful of volunteers who played principally to brighten up Soka Gakkai meetings, the Music Corps now comprises
Asked about his impressions of the event, Iraqi author and journalist Shakir Noori of the Dubai-based Al Bayan newspaper commented: "We are giving meaning to poetry which is lost due to our busy lifestyle. When you lose poetry, you lose the poetic heart." He further remarked, "The highlight of the day was poems recited in different languages breaking barriers of religion, language and color. The focus thereby stays on humanity."
SGI-Gulf is registered in Dubai as an educational organization to contribute to building a culture of peace through promoting human values and friendship. It hosts peace education and cultural events in partnership with Dubai Knowledge Village, a special zone in Dubai devoted to education and human resource management.
[Adapted from an article in the March 6, 2013, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan and reports from SGI-Gulf; photos courtesy of SGI-Gulf]
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