Dr. Shihab Ghanem's Thank-You-Note

(At Poetic Heart: Connecting Humanity Event-Dubai, on 8th February 2015 At The Cultural & Scientific Association (Nadwa) Auditorium in Al Mamzar.)

Excellencies, Ladies & Gentlemen, Dear Friends,

I would like first to recite a verse from the Holy Quran which states:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you And Allah has full Knowledge and is, well-acquainted (with all things). (Al-Hjurat/13)

Perhaps such a festival, which has included this appreciable number of poets from a variety of nationalities and languages is a beautiful way to get acquainted and develop cooperation.

I personally believe that poetry is the soul of any nation and to understand any nation, the best way is to read the some of the best poems of its prominent poets through the ages, and this is what I personally experienced over more than three decades through the translation of outstanding poems from various languages (albeit through an intermediate language).

Perhaps the importance of such a festival is even more in these days in which we see the unfortunate escalation of violence and extremism. We need to build bridges to get to know each other and the different cultures and encourage dialogue. Poetry and music are a wonderful way to achieve this first step. Rational dialogue could follow as a next step towards coexistence. We must realize that we are all passengers in this ship called the globe, and we have to preserve it and its environment through coexistence and not selfishness. Poets and reformers dream of that time when people learn to give rather than take. But let us for the time being learn to give and take as a first step.

That was the philosophy of Poetic Heart as envisaged four years ago through a chance discussion between myself, Mr. Rakesh and Dr. Akash over a cup of coffee (or tea) at a hotel in New Delhi four years ago.

In fact, the festival has been more successful than I had imagined because of the positive atmosphere that is owed to members of the Organization of SGI and dedication in their volunteer work for the success of the festival, because they felt that it was a small step in the right direction toward peace. But credit is also due for all poets and musicians who poured all this love and interaction during each of the four festivals, some incurring the trouble of long travel. Here, too, I do not forget school students who submitted a large number of interesting poems.

Unfortunately, we could include only a limited number of these poems due to time constraint. And also many thanks for all the support provided by the Dubai Cultural and Scientific Association, Knowledge Village and the management and teachers of the schools that responded to the festival.

Personally I would like to extend my thanks for the outstanding Emirati singer Engineer Osama for singing two of my poems during the festival, which made me one of the participants whilst I was in fact one of the audience. I also thank poet Silvana Salmanpur for taking the initiative on her to translate a collection of my poems called the Waves in her poetic language. I, of course well know the difficulties of poetry translation. I hope that this initiative heralds this new activity of poetry translation, which has emerged from the womb of Poetic Heart. I hope that we will see more poetry translation among the family members of Poetic Heart. I call them family members not participants. And by a mere coincidence the Al-Ahsa Literary Club in Saudi Arabia, in which our friend Jasim Al-Suhaih is a prominent poet, has just issued a collection of my poems entitled Waves, which the first collection by a non-Saudi poet issued by the club, which is a good sign of cooperation heralded by poetry.

Finally, I wish to thank the guests of honor and all the guests who attended and contributed to making this a joyful festival.

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