Lifelines 2018: The Poetry of Human Rights (video)

Lifelines 2018: The Poetry of Human Rights (video)

Resource Type
Event Recording
Publication Year
English (US)




Lifelines: The Poetry of Human Rights, 2018, features readings by leading women poets during the 62nd Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) in New York City, March 20, 2018. Since 2003, WLP’s Lifelines series has linked poetry and prose to the struggle of realizing women’s human rights. Featuring readings by leading women poets, the event connects the listener to testimonies that inspire and build solidarity among feminist activists everywhere.

[00:00:00]  Mahnaz Afkhami begins the event and introduces Abena Busia, who introduces the Lifelines event series and the poets who will present.

[00:07:35]  Fatemeh Shams reads poems on the theme of spring and renewal, and relates them to her circumstance of exile – being separated from her homeland and constantly in search of a new home. The year 2018 marks Fatemeh’s 9th spring away from Iran.

[00:15:39]  Jamila Reddy reads a poem on spring.

[00:17:15]  Abena Busia reads a poem on spring.

[00:20:45]  Michelle Yasmine Valladares also reflects on exile in her poem, "India, Home."

[00:27:45]  Abena Busia reads a poem written for her mother’s 70th birthday: "Addresses: 93 Abingdon Road, 1963-1993." 

[00:31:59]  Michelle Yasmine Valladares reads a poem in defense of the lives of those who have stood up to sexual violence.

[00:34:29]  Jamila Reddy reads an untitled poem for the boys without names (referencing police violence).

[00:36:04]  Fatemeh Shams reads three short poems: 1) a poem on retaliation (acid pouring) on protesting women; 2) a poem on surveillance called "Persecution;" and 3) a poem for "hometown."

[00:40:48]  Abena Busia comments that patriarchy has many faces. She recalls 9/11 and reads a poem called "Demonic Arithmetic," referencing the last line of a hymn, "Now the laborous task is over."

[00:47:05]  Abena Busia introduces a thematic focus on the power of love and the power of creativity. Busia eads another poem written for her mother on Abena’s 50th birthday.

[00:53:04]  Jamila Reddy reads a poem on her name and her father, who was a painter.

[00:56:45]  Fatemeh Shams reads a poem in celebration of love and wine called "Violet."

[00:58:35]  Michelle Yasmine Valladares reads a poem on love called "Nothing Prepared Me."

[01:00:20]  Abena Busia leads a Q&A to end the session.