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Patricia Haley-Tsui  

ceramics, Canada.

Living in British Colombia, she has been working in clay since 1996. Nature and the Bahá´í Teachings are her main influences. She also paints, directs youth theatre and organizes events such as a "Poetry for Peace" evening with other members of her local Bahá´í community.

Letter from Patricia Haley-Tsui, Canada.
In the summer of 2001, the Bahá´í Canada newsletter ran a short note on a Poetry for Peace Project implemented by the League of Canadian Poets. I contacted the league and expressed an interest in having a reading in British Columbia. The league was very supportive, supplying our local Bahá'í community with the information we would need to hold a reading. Simultaneously, I was taking "The Secret of Divine Civilisation" course, by distance education, run by the Wilmette Institute in the United States. The course required a project.
On Sept. 11, there was the terrible tragedy in the United States. Although this event occurred after I decided to hold the Poetry for Peace reading, it had an impact on the event and my selection of poems. The idea was approved by my local spiritual assembly and course instructor. The assembly set aside a budget to rent a beautiful 150-seat studio theater, and for incidental expenses. The Canada Council for the Arts granted money to pay for a feature poet to read. A local poet wrote a special poem, which he read. Three very talented local university students provided songs and music.
I purchased a lab coat to use as a 'peace jacket' and made silk scarves stamped "Poetry for Peace" for the artists to wear. Peace poems, wrapped in artist decorated poem wraps were available for sale. Our event could not have been more timely. The feature poet was Eric Folsom from central Canada, who was passing through Burnaby as part of his cross-country poetry reading tour. He kept the audience spellbound as he read poems of peace, unity, tolerance and compassion, ending with Robert Frost's "The Road Not Taken." His encore was to read a children's picture book, "Miss Rumphius", the story of a lady who travelled the world trying to make it a more beautiful place.

As far as I am aware, this was the only Poetry for Peace reading in Western Canada, 3000 miles away from Sue McMaster's original concept in Ottawa. Yet close enough for bringing peace to the world, through the power of expression. I feel that if we understand poetry, we can understand the Bahá'í writings better.

  • Letter and photographs: Arts Dialogue, June 2002

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