Events (in chronological order)

Montréal, Canada – Thursday 2 June 2016

Québécois poets  Dominique Gaucher, Hélène Lepine, Jacques Ouellet and  Michel Pleau joined with Bhikshuni Weisbrot and Elizabeth Lara in a collaboration between the Festival de la Poésie de Montréal and the UNSRC Society of Writers. LANCEMENT BONHEUR : L’ARBRE-JOIE featured selected readings on the subject of happiness.  Poems from Happiness The Delight-Tree included those of anthology poets Jacques Ouellet and Michel Pleau,  as well as those of Nora Atalla read by Dominique Gaucher and Hélène Lapine reading the poems of Québécois poet Jean Désy and her French translation of Palestinian poet Maya Abu Al-Hayat.  Music was provided by Pavaka’s Group, an instrumental ensemble led by Pavaka Ritchot.  The event was masterfully organized by Isabelle Courteau and Soniya Roseval.

Merci à tous!

International Day of Happiness, UNESCO Literary House, Reykjavik, Iceland

Lára Aðalsteinsdóttir, Program Manager for Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature welcomed fellow Icelanders to UNESCO Literary House where an American poet, Bhikshuni Weisbrot, (reading from Happiness the Delight-Tree and On Human Flourishing), an Icelandic poet (Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson), a philosopher (Gunnar Hersveinn), a speaker from the Department of Public Health (Sigrún Daníelsdóttir) and a musical ensemble shared perspectives on happiness. It was noted that Iceland which ranked #3 out of 156 countries in this year’s World Happiness Report, seemed the place to be!  See the event in Icelandic on

Poetry as Diplomacy: A Reading and Panel Discussion, Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, New York University, 4  March 2016.

An innovative program highlighting poetry as a potent diplomatic asset was presented in a reading and panel discussion at NYU’s Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on 4 March 2016.  Co-sponsored by the UNSRC Society of Writers, the NYU Gallatin Writing Program and Tisch School of the Arts Department of Arts and Public Policy, the program was the brainchild of Happiness the Delight Tree co-editor Darrel Alejandro Holnes, who teaches at the NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.  A full house on a Friday evening drew delighted comments from poets Naomi Shihab Nye and Meena Alexander whose readings topically drew on their unique cultural heritages and international experience as well as the importance of happiness in global exchange.

In her opening remarks, UNSRC Society of Writers President Bhikshuni Weisbrot quoted the late Secretary General Dag Hammarksjold’s illumining comments on diplomacy and the written word.  Co-editor Elizabeth Lara joined in the panel discussion to provide insightful references to the historical role of poetry as a means to convey political vision, policy recommendation and diplomatic finesse.

Universitas Hindu Indonesia, Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia – 22 January 2016.

The Universitas Hindu Indonesia was the hosting university in a multi-cultural panel on “The Contributions of Poetry to Intercultural Dialogue and Happiness” on 22 January 2016.  United Nations Society of Writers President Bhikshuni Weisbrot joined with fellow Indonesian poets, artists and academics to read selections from Happiness the Delight-Tree, as well as her own work from the poetry anthology On Human Flourishing.  Dr. Diane Butler of Dharma Nature Time, a foundation to support interculture through the sharing of the arts, provided translation in both Bahasa Indonesian and English.  The event was covered and aired on TVRI Bali.

Human Rights Day Celebration, Panorama of My Silence-Heart Cafe, Jamaica, New York, 10 December 2015.

Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights … “Everyone has the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and share in its benefits”…. provided the framework for a celebration of Human Rights Day, 10 December 2015.  An appreciative audience gathered to welcome feature poets Amira El-Zein, Rachel Jamison Webster, speaker Ranjana K. Ghose, Director of the Jharna Kala Art Foundation and musician Premik Russell Tubbs and friends, for an evening of poetry and song. Panorama of My Silence-Heart Cafe in Queens provided the venue and organized the event which also featured a photo exhibit marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

Rutgers University, Writers House, New Brunswick, New Jersey: 5 November 2015.

Co-editor Darrel Alejandro Holnes organized and hosted a poetry reading at Rutgers University Writers House on 5 November 2015, where he teaches poetry and creative writing.  National Book Award winning poet Mark Doty played a dual role as both reader and Professor of English and Director of Writers House in welcoming poets Meena Alexander, Javier Zamora and fellow Rutgers Professor and poet Abena Busia (in a digital appearance) to a reading and discussion on the poetry of happiness.  Students shared in the lively and thoughtful Q&A which followed, opening with the question: How can poetry be a quest for peace?  UNSRC Society of Writers member and co-editor Elizabeth Lara, acted as MC in this notable event which marked the first university appearance for Happiness the Delight-Tree.

Brooklyn Book Fair and The International Day of Peace – 21 September 2015

Happiness and peace forged a perfect partnership at a two day event, beginning with the outdoor Brooklyn Book Festival held on Sunday 20 September 2015, where Happiness The Delight-Tree was one of hundreds of books featured to a lively crowd of literary patrons. The following evening, poets and United Nations staff honoured The International Day of Peace at an offical Brooklyn Book Festival Event held at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, in collaboration wth the UNSRC Society of Writers.  The Rev. John E. Denaro, Rector of St. Ann’s welcomed the audience with a prayer for peace, followed by Ramu Damodaran (Chief, of the United Nations Academic Impact Outreach Division, DPI and President of the United Nations Staff Recreation Council), who spoke eloquently on the relationship between peace and happiness through the work of the United Nations and the participating poets.  Feature performers included: Meena Alexander, Dara Barnat, Rei Berroa, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Sharon Dolin, Nilpushpi White, Michèle Voltaire Marcelin and musician Premik Russell Tubbs.  Peace featured strongly as well in the choral arrangement of “Peace: God’s Beauty in His Oneness-Home,” by Sri Chinmoy and in, “A Moment’s Peace”, passing of the peace torch by the participants and the audience. A very special thanks to the generosity and kindness of Father Denaro and the staff of St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church.

Antologia Poetica International  (El Dia Internacional de la Paz) – Buenos Aires Argentina

SBS Libreria Internacional in Buenos Aires, Argentina hosted a celebration on The International Day of Peace 21 September 2015 in a program featuring poets Julia Enriquez and Florencia Gutman of Argentina and Raquel Lubartowski Nogara, who traveled to the event from Montivideo, Uruguay.  Argentinian musician and guitarist Otto, performed “Sada Susanga” by Sri Chinmoy, one of the three songs which appear in Happiness the Delight-Tree. The program was organized by Suchana Cao, of Buenos Aires, who has  organized numerous programs for peace throughtout Argentina.

Dominican Republic: Happiness: The Delight-Tree – An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry (9 to 11 October 2015)

The International Poetry Forum (Foro Internacional de Poesía: Tradición y ruptura en la poesía contemporánea) took place in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, from 9 to 11 October 2015. The countries represented, in addition to the Dominican Republic, included Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Greece, Italy, Mexico, Spain, Sri Lanka,Venezuela, and the United States/Puerto Rico. At the Forum, co-editor Elizabeth Lara presented Happiness: The Delight-Tree – An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry.  She introduced the participants to the process that led to the adoption of General Assembly resolution 66/281, which created the International Day of Happiness, and invited both writers and readers to look at the future through the lens of happiness and incorporate it in their work.

Dominican Republic: Happiness: The Delight-Tree – An Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry (26 September 2015)

Happiness The Delight-Tree, an Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry was presented on 26 September 2015 at the Ninth Dominican Book Fair in New York.  The reading and discussion included poet Rei Berroa, whose poem “The Usefulness of Laughter” appears in the book, and New-York based Dominican poets Yrene Santos and Jose de la Rosa.

World Heart Beat Music Academy, Wandsworth, London: 30 June 2015

The World Heart Beat Music Academy exemplified the spirit of creativity as a universal form of communication when it welcomed poets, musicians and student performers (performing their original composition “Champions of the World”),  to Happiness The Delight-Tree, a celebration in poetry and song on 30 June 2015.  Following an opening reception, graciously offered by founder Sahana Gero, UNSRC Society of Writers President Bhikshuni Weisbrot joined co-editors Darrel Alejandro Holnes and Elizabeth Lara in an unprecedented evening, to host an array of international poets and musicians including: Gernot Blume (Germany), Shirin Razavian (Iran), Shazea Quraishi (Pakistan), Greta Stoddart (England), George Szirtes (Hungary) and Infinity’s Sky Music group, performing the songs of Sri Chinmoy and Igor Shaferan from the antholgy.   A special thanks to the poets and performers who traveled long distances and braved an uncharacteristic London heatwave to grace the full house with an unforgettable evening.

Hay Festival, Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland: 26 June 2015. 

Happiness The Delight-Tree, an Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry made it’s international debut at the 2015 Hay Festival, 26 June 2015, sharing the 4 day event with novelists, playwrights, historians, comedians and journalists.  The theme of happiness played a significant role in the festival’s theme of “Imagine the World” or Samhlaigh an domhan.   Irish poet and Meath County native Peter Fallon lent a special warmth to the event, evoking the great Irish literary tradition as he opened the reading with his poem, “ Day and Night” .  He was joined by countryman Breda Wall Ryan, Welsh poet Menna Elfyn reading in both Welsh and English and Scottish poet and novelist Alan Spence, who brought his flute and provided a musical lilt to the reading.  Special thanks to organizer Paula Flood.

Presentation and Book Signing, UN Bookshop, UN HQ, NY, Thursday 19 March 2015

Happiness The Delight-Tree, an Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry was launched at the newly renovated UN Bookshop on 19 March 2015. The anthology, created in honour of the International Day of Happiness, 20 March includes poetry of 55 countries in 33 languages on the subject of happiness.  The launch was announced at the earlier DPI/NGO event, “The Paradox of Income and Happiness”.  Jeffrey Brez, Chief, NGO Relations, Advocacy and Special Events, introduced Pultizer Prize winning poet Yusef Komunyakaa, who closed the program with his poem from the anthology, “With My Fish-Skin Drum.”

At the launch, on behalf of the UN Bookshop, Mr. Maher Nassar. Director, Outreach Division, DPI, welcomed  a standing room only crowd to hear the poetry of Dara Barnat, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Sharon Dolin, Yusef Komunyakaa, Laren McClung, Yevgeny Yevtushenko (read by Dhirodata Moskalev), Javier Zamora. and UNSRC Society of Writers members Nilpushpi White and Di Zou.  The eminent literary and cultural Homme de Lettres, H.E. Mohamed Mijarul Quayes, Ambassador of Bangladesh to Brazil, began the reading with an eloquent rendition of the title poem:  “Happiness, the Delight-Tree”, by Sri Chinmoy.  Co-editors Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Elizabeth Lara and Bhikshuni

Happiness: A Visual Poem, March 3 – 24, 2013

The Queens Museum of Art

Celebrating the first United Nations International Day of Happiness, the Queens Museum of Art, in conjunction with the UNSRC Society of Writers, displays a visually arresting exhibit combining poetry with photographic images evoking different aspects of human happiness.

A Tribute and Celebration on the occasion of the birthday of Chinua Achebe
Friday 15 November 2013

Dag Hammarskjold Library Auditorium, UN Headquarters, New York

The UN SRC Film Society and Rutgers University Writers House joined the UN SRC Society of Writers to celebrate the great Nigerian and world reknowned writer Chinua Achebe.  The celebration was held on his birthday 15 November.  Representing the Achebe family was his granddaughter Chochi Ejueyitchi, who shared her humerous and warm accounts of her grandfather.  A host of luminaries from the worlds of education, literature and the arts joined with Ambassador Usman Sarki, Deputy Permanent Representative of Nigeria to share in a diverse and moving tribute of music, song, poetry, personal stories and film.  “Things Fall Apart”, Chinua Achebe’s seminal work that transformed the world of African Literature and opened the world and possibilities of African literature for an upcoming generation of African writers was highlighted in readings by author Uwem Akpan (“Say You’re One of Them”), students responses by Educator Olutosin Mustapha of Frederick Douglas Academy VII High School and Darrel Alejandro Holnes of Rutgers Writers House and original composition by saxophonist David Engelhard.  “Chinua Achebe” by Sri Chinmoy was performed by Singers from Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations and original poem “A Poet Daughter’s Farewell: Still Morning Yet” artfully written and read by Abena P.A. Busia, Professor and Chair, Department of women’s and Gender Studies, Rutgers University.
Family friend and distinguished professor of Africana-American and Africana Studies, Chukwuma Azuonye, traveling from University of Massachusetts, Boston, represented academia in sharing the global impact of Mr. Achebe’s work.   The program ended with an interview filmed at Chinua Achebe’s home at Bard College Campus, 28 June 2008, where he taught and lived with his wife and family from 1998-2011 presented by UN SRC Film Society President Bahula Boring.

Can Poetry Save the Earth?


A programme in honour of Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development and National Poetry Month. Wednesday 11 April 2012

Diplomats and poets came together to share poetry of the environment during National Poetry month to bring attention to the upcoming June conference in Rio de Janeiro .  Keynote speaker John Felstiner, Professor Emeritus of Stanford University, shared poems from his book “Can Poetry Save the Earth?/A field Guide to Nature poems”.  He was joined by poet Jeffrey Yang and members of the diplomatic community including  Ambassador Maria Teresa Mesquita Pêssoa of the Permanent Mission of Brazil to the United Nations and Davidson Hepburn, former Ambassador of The Bahamas to the United Nations, reading selected favorites.

Discussion on The Vision of Thomas Jefferson

Conference Room 4 of the United Nations Secretariat on Friday 29 October 2004. Two admirers of Thomas Jefferson discussed the enduring power of his vision in today’s world:
Mr. Eric S. Petersen, Keynote Speaker, the Editor of the recently published book, Light and Liberty: Reflections on the Pursuit of Happiness will speak on “Freedom in World Oneness: the Pursuit of Happiness through the Eyes of Thomas Jefferson.”
Mr. Willard Sterne Randall, renowned Author, Pulitzer Prize nominee and Historian will speak on “From Diplomat to President, From Idealist to Pragmatist”.

The United Nations SRC Society of Writers hosted a discussion on The Vision of Thomas Jefferson