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Festive Poetry Event

The Foundation welcomed Commonwealth High Commissioners to a celebration of Commonwealth culture.

Posted on 13/01/2022
By Commonwealth Foundation

Every society, every community, has its poets. They are the first storytellers, the ones who weave words into images, capture and interpret feelings and ideas that would otherwise never find expression. Poets are the truth-tellers, the transmitters of knowledge and values and meaning. Poetry is also central to protest and rebellion, cutting through the abuse of language that so often goes with abuse of power: signalling eternal truths that all of us can recognise.

With these words, the Director-General of the Commonwealth Foundation and the High Commissioner of St Kitts and Nevis welcomed High Commissioners for a unique celebration of Commonwealth culture.

Throughout the evening, distinguished attendees took to the stage to recite a favourite piece of poetry from their country. Chosen texts included the works of national laureates and lesser-known personal favourites and the themes of climate change; the experiences of colonialism; the beauty of the natural world; love of country and love of people shone through.

Sir Iftikhar Ayaz KBE reciting his poem, ‘Tuvalu, Tuvalu’.

Several participants wrote poems especially for the occasion and we are thrilled that they have agreed to share those for this story.

H.E. Dr Farah Faizal’s performance of I don’t want a dead herowas one of many highlights. Her original work was a personal reflection on the time her husband spent working as a frontline healthcare worker during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sir Iftikar A. Ayaz KBE, Honorary Consul of Tuvalu (pictured), penned: Tuvalu, Tuvalu: a stirring lament of the damage wrought on this tiny island nation by global warming.

And Dr Kevin Isaac, our co-host of the event and a widely published poet in his own right, closed the evening with his own poem ‘Time travel, a fitting reflection on the impermanence and uncertainty that marks all our lives—perhaps now more than ever.

While the creation of poetry is a solitary endeavour, the results of each creation are meant to be shared. That sharing serves as a powerful reminder of our common humanity and of the ties that bind us together—a reminder of what truly matters about being alive, about our common human experiences. Our thanks go to all High Commissioners and representatives who participated in this memorable evening.

Read three selected poems from the event:

I don’t want a dead hero’ by H.E. Dr Farah Faizal

Tuvalu, Tuvalu’ by Sir Iftikar A. Ayaz KBE

Time travel‘ by H.E. Dr Kevin M. Isaac