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October 5, 2007

World Poetry Society International Names SGI President World People's Poet

WPSI President Srinivas (4th from left) and WPSI Vice President Padmanaban (foreground, right) entrusts the award to IOP Director Kawada (3rd from left)

On October 5, 2007, the World Poetry Society Intercontinental (WPSI) presented its first World People's Poet title to SGI President Daisaku Ikeda in recognition of the hope and optimism his poetry has inspired in people the world over. WPSI President Dr. Krishna Srinivas and Vice President A. Padmanaban presented the accolade before an audience of 700 at the Poetry for World Peace, Harmony and Humanism Symposium held on October 5, 2007, in Chennai, India, cosponsored by WPSI, the Institute of Oriental Philosophy, Soka Women's College and Bharat (India) Soka Gakkai (BSG).

The poetry symposium following the conferral upon Mr. Ikeda also commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy

WPSI is headquartered in Chennai and has affiliates in 50 countries. Dr. Krishna Srinivas, 95, who is also cofounder of the World Congress of Poets and founding president of the monthly magazine Poet, heads the society. In 1995, the society conferred the World Poet Laureate Award upon Mr. Ikeda. The SGI president was also declared a poet laureate by the World Academy of Arts and Culture in 1981.

Among the attendees were Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) Director Yoichi Kawada, Soka Ikeda College of Arts and Science for Women Chair Sethu Kumanan, Dr. Bharati Mukherjee, former vice chancellor of Rabindra Bharati University, and Dr. Muthiah Mariappan, former vice chancellor of Bharathidasan University.

In his conferral speech, Dr. Srinivas began by quoting a passage from one of Mr. Ikeda's poems and lauded the powerful poetry which he said imparts hope and courage to those who read it.

Students of Soka Ikeda College of Arts & Science for Women celebrated the event by singing

Students of Soka Ikeda College of Arts & Science for Women celebrated the event by singing "Mother"

In a message shared at the occasion, Mr. Ikeda lamented that the massive influx of information bombarding people due to advances in information, communications and transportation technology such as the Internet and e-mail, rather than enriching their spirit, may have caused people to lose touch with their inherent poetic spirit by giving them less time to stay in contact with nature. "Are people losing the fecundity of spirit to write poetry, enjoy the sight of flowers and the singing of birds, and communicate with the stars of the nighttime sky? It would seem that today the human mind is isolated and cut off from the expanses of the cosmos, the rhythms of nature, and the eternal flow of time." He went on to state, "the tendency to regard even irreplaceable life itself in terms of material things and statistics debilitates the poetic spirit. This is lamentable because that spirit should move us, keep us in tune with nature and the universe, and serve as the source of spiritual and ethical riches. Weakening the poetic spirit deprives us of these blessings. The basic rhythms resounding from nature and the universe are eternal. Being cut off from them generates the loneliness and isolation experienced by humanity today."

Declaring that everyone is essentially a poet, Mr. Ikeda affirmed, "The voice of the poet calls out for peace and harmonious coexistence," and "The poet is a compassionate person who joins ordinary people in their battle with evil and a wise person who shines guiding light on the future."

[Adapted from a BSG report and an article in the October 14, 2007, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of BSG]