From the author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, comes a short but powerful picture book for all ages, dedicated to the thousands of refugees who have perished at sea fleeing war and persecution. Enhanced by the illustrations of Dan Williams, it’s a letter from a father to a son, on the eve of their departure. He knows he is doing everything he can to protect his child, but also realizes that his choice will put them in grave danger.
Impelled to write this story by the haunting image of young Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body washed upon the beach in Turkey in September 2015, Hosseini hopes to pay tribute to the millions of families, like Kurdi’s, who have been splintered and forced from home by war and persecution, and he will donate author proceeds from this book to the UNHCR (the UN Refugee Agency) and The Khaled Hosseini Foundation to help fund lifesaving relief efforts to help refugees around the globe. Khaled Hosseini was born in Kabul, Afghanistan, and moved to the United States in 1980. Here is a short documentary from the author about his own journey in writing this book:
“Anyone who struggles, feels alone, suffers with anxiety or stress; I want to inspire these people to persevere and rest in the knowledge that we are never alone. I hope that my simple poems bring you a smile for the moments you feel unable to.”
There is courage in sharing a story which reveals weakness and vulnerability. Katie Ruth experienced a great deal of pain and anxiety after a mysterious episode that left her with memory loss. But she did not suffer in silence. She decided to tell her story of a journey back to wholeness and health, so that others could benefit. Writing poetry was instrumental in her healing process and her wish is that her words may help others achieve the same. I’ve heard it said, “let your mess become your message”. Katie Ruth has done that with grace and charm.
In the introduction to the book, Katie talks about the debilitating effects of the panic attacks which she suffered from. Having struggled with a few of these myself, I appreciated her honest description and her wise recommendations to others who may find themselves in her situation. Her poems are grouped according to themes: Nature, Struggles, Pure Love, Perseverance, and Celebration.
Katie’s book is available through Amazon (.ca .com .uk) or Waterstones in the UK. She is donating a portion of her proceeds to an organization helping homeless street children in South Africa.
Swans are some of the most elegant, graceful, dignified, and beautiful creatures I have ever seen. When I mentioned to my son that I so much enjoy seeing the swans on my morning walk along the River Thames to the gym, he mentioned this poem to me right away. I love the graceful beauty of these magnificent birds. They seem to be timeless and unaffected by the worries of the world. But Yeats was not. He wrote this poem as a sad commentary on the grief and pain that comes with change, in his case because of the problems in Ireland.
Instead of reading the poem, just listen to it on this video and let the words wash over you.
If I am honest, I must admit that I am not a great lover of poetry. So why am I featuring one in my new blog? Well, whenever I encounter a poem that has meaning for a time or event in my life, I do pay attention and appreciate this art form more. Yeats captures the power and the pain in change, using the swans as a marvelous image.
What’s noteworthy about Yeats is that unlike many poets, his writing became better as he grew older, and some of his best work was done after he turned 50 – now that’s encouraging!
When a close friend of mine was nearing death from cancer, she told me she had a mystical experience out in a boat on a lake with a number of swans. They were an encouragement to her then, and they are to me now as I settle in a new place, and they were to Yeats. Timeless.