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February 8, 2024

Thirteenth Edition of “The Poetic Heart: Connecting Humanity” Held in Dubai Pays Tribute to Daisaku Ikeda

On February 8, 2024, the 13th edition of “The Poetic Heart: Connecting Humanity” was held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). This annual poetry event was hosted by SGI-Gulf, a Dubai-based cultural and educational organization, in association with Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK). It was attended by some 900 people and broadcast online.

“The Poetic Heart” was first held in 2012 and draws inspiration from the conviction Daisaku Ikeda (1928–2023) had in the power of poetry to foster connection and nurture the values that underlie peace. Each year, it brings together poets, musicians and students from across the region and beyond to perform their work on topics such as peace, friendship, tolerance and human dignity.

This year, the event was held under the theme “Building a Sustainable Future, Together,” which, states ADEK, underscores the need for a collective, forward-thinking approach to tackle complex challenges related to sustainability. Forty-four students from educational establishments across UAE, ranging from junior high schools to universities, presented their poems. Expressing the power of youth and their aspirations for the future, the students hoped to inspire people to recognize the ways in which they benefit from nature and the importance of initiating change from within oneself.

Poets from countries including Egypt, India, UAE and the UK also recited their poems in different languages.

Dr. Shihab Ghanem (right) and a student recite their poems at the 13th edition of “The Poetic Heart: Connecting Humanity” symposium inspired by Daisaku Ikeda
Dr. Shihab Ghanem paying tribute to Mr. Ikeda (right) and one of the student poets reciting her poem (left)

Among them was Dr. Shihab Ghanem, a renowned UAE poet, who led the translation of Mr. Ikeda’s poetry collection Fighting for Peace into Arabic and has played a pivotal role in organizing “The Poetic Heart” since its inception.

Dr. Ghanem paid tribute to Mr. Ikeda, who passed away on November 15, 2023, praising his work as not only a prolific poet and photographer but also as a dedicated advocate for peace and the founder of various institutions, including universities. Dr. Ghanem read a poem he wrote, dedicated to Mr. Ikeda, recounting a visit to Hiroshima, Japan, in 2015. In the poem, he refers to Mr. Ikeda as “brother Daisaku.”

The symposium also included a recitation in Japanese and in Hindi of Mr. Ikeda’s poem “Salute to Mothers” and of the lyrics he wrote for the song titled “Mother’s Song.” The SGI-Gulf chorus group Naseem (meaning “breeze” in Arabic) performed an original composition.

Participants at the 13th edition of “The Poetic Heart: Connecting Humanity” symposium inspired by Daisaku Ikeda
Participants at the 13th edition of “The Poetic Heart: Connecting Humanity” symposium gather for a commemorative photo

[Adapted from an article in the February 16, 2024, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan]

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