Festival de la Poésie de Montréal, Canada, 2 June 2016
Québécois poets Dominique Gaucher, Hélène Lepine, Jacques Ouellet and Michel Pleau and Bhikshuni Weisbrot and Elizabeth Lara came together 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 an instrumental ensemble lead 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, 20 March 2016
Lára Aðalsteinsdóttir, Program Manager for Reykjavík UNESCO City of Literature, welcomed the audience to UNESCO Literary House where poets Aðalsteinn Ásberg Sigurðsson and Bhikshuni Weisbrot joined with philosopher Gunnar Hersveinn and representative from the Department of Public Health Sigrún Daníelsdóttir to share their perspectives on happiness. Adding to the spirit of the program was music performed by an ensemble from the Sri Chinmoy Centre of Iceland. It was noted that Iceland ranked #3 out of 156 countries in the World Happiness Report 2016.
Poetry as Diplomacy: A Reading and Panel Discussion, Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, New York University, 4 March 2016
An innovative program on the potential force poetry can play as a tool in diplomacy was the focus at a reading and panel discussion on poetry 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 Hammarskjöld’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 host 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 selections from the poetry anthology On Human Flourishing. Dr. Diane Butler of Dharma Nature Time, a foundation to support intercultural understanding 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, The Panorama of My Silence-Heart café, 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 and Rachel Jamison Webster, joined by Ranjana K. Ghose, Director of the Jharna-Kala Art Foundation offering opening remarks and musician Premik Russell Tubbs and friends, for an evening of poetry and song. The Panorama of My Silence-Heart café 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 (via Skype) 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.
The International Poetry Forum (Foro Internacional de Poesía: Tradición y ruptura en la poesía contemporánea), Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, 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 UN 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.
The Ninth Dominican Book Fair, New York, 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.
Brooklyn Book Fair and The International Day of Peace, 20 to 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 at the festival before a lively crowd of literary patrons. The following evening, poets and United Nations staff honored The International Day of Peace at an official Brooklyn Book Festival Event held at St. Ann & the Holy Trinity Church, in collaboration with 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. Feature poets included: Meena Alexander, Dara Barnat, Rei Berroa, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Sharon Dolin, Nilpushpi White, Michèle Voltaire Marcelin and musician Premik Russell Tubbs. Peace, the powerful theme of the evening, was graced by the performance of “Peace: God’s Beauty in His Oneness-Home,” a choral arrangement of a few of spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy’s songs. To close the evening, all present were invited to hold the peace torch of the global Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run and offer his or her own silent prayer for peace.
Antologia Poetica International (El Dia Internacional de la Paz), Buenos Aires Argentina, 21 September 2015
SBS Libreria Internacional in Buenos Aires, Argentina hosted a celebration on The International Day of Peace on 21 September 2015, in a program featuring poets Julia Enriquez and Florencia Gutman of Argentina as well as Raquel Lubartowski Nogara, who traveled to the event from Montivideo, Uruguay. Musical presentations including a poem/song from Happiness the Delight-Tree were offered by Argentinian musician and guitarist Otto. The program was organized by Suchana Cao of Buenos Aires, who has organized numerous programs for peace throughout Argentina.
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, hosting an array of international poets and musicians including Gernot Blume (Germany), Shirin Razavian (Iran), Shazea Quraishi (Pakistan), Greta Stoddart (England) and George Szirtes (Hungary). Infinity’s Sky Music group, performed the songs of Sri Chinmoy and Igor Shaferan, both of whose songs/poems can be found in the anthology.
Hay Festival, Kells, Co. Meath, Ireland, 26 June 2015
Happiness The Delight-Tree, an Anthology of Contemporary International Poetry made its 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 “as the Irish say” 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, novelist and playwright, Alan Spence, who also played flute and provided a musical lilt to the reading. Special thanks to organizer Paula Flood.
Presentation and Book Signing, UN Bookshop, UN Headquarters, New York, 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, compiled in honor 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.”
On behalf of the UN Bookshop, 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 Weisbrot hosted the event.
Happiness: A Visual Poem at the Queens Museum, New York, 3 to 24 March, 2013
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, Dag Hammarskjöld Library Auditorium, UN Headquarters, New York, 15 November 2013
The UNSRC Film Society and Rutgers University Writers House joined the UNSRC Society of Writers to celebrate the great Nigerian and world renowned writer Chinua Achebe. The celebration was held on his birthday, 15 November. Representing the Achebe family was his granddaughter Chochi Ejueyitchi, who shared her warm and sometimes humorous accounts of her grandfather. A host of luminaries from the world 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 a new generation of African writers was highlighted in readings by author Uwem Akpan (“Say You’re One of Them”), student comments by Educator Olutosin Mustapha of Frederick Douglas Academy VII High School and Darrel Alejandro Holnes of Rutgers Writers House and original musical composition by saxophonist David Engelhard. The singers from Sri Chinmoy: The Peace Meditation at the United Nations performed “Chinua Achebe”, a song written and composed by Sri Chinmoy, the leader of the Peace Meditation group, which was dedicated to the writer. An original poem “A Poet Daughter’s Farewell: Still Morning Yet” was written and movingly 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 the University of Massachusetts, Boston, shared the global impact of Mr. Achebe’s work. The program ended with an interview filmed at Chinua Achebe’s home near Bard College Campus, 28 June 2008, where he taught and lived with his wife and family from 1998 to 2011, presented by UNSRC 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, UN Headquarters, New York, 11 April 2012
Diplomats and poets came together to share poetry on the theme of the environment during National Poetry Month to bring attention to the upcoming United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in June. 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.
The Vision of Thomas Jefferson, UN Headquarters, New York, 29 October 2004
Two admirers of Thomas Jefferson discussed the enduring power of Jefferson’s vision in today’s world: Mr. Eric S. Petersen, Keynote Speaker, Editor of Light and Liberty: Reflections on the Pursuit of Happiness spoke 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, discussed Jefferson from the vantage point of “From Diplomat to President, From Idealist to Pragmatist”.
Celebrating the UN Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations through Poetry, UN Headquarters, New York, 29 March 2001
Giandomenico Picco, Personal Representative of the Secretary-General for the UN Year of Dialogue Among Civilizations 2001, joined with Shashi Tharoor, Interim Head of the Department of Public Information and host UNSRC Society of Writers Vice-President Catherine Vijaya Claxton for this stellar program, a joint collaboration between the Society and Ratapallax Magazine, whose founder Ram Devineni was the brainchild of the event. Poets Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, Sri Chinmoy, Yusef Komunyakaa, Joyce Carol Oates and James Ragan read their work, enthralling a crowd of more than 500 members of the UN community and general public who attended the event.