This TED talk from 2009 has been viewed over 11 million times and is ranked among the top 20 most viewed TED talks of all time.
It is a powerful reminder that the underrepresentation of cultural differences may be dangerous.
Dangerous? Indeed so.
In this talk, Adiche explains that as a young child, she had often read American and British stories, where the characters were primarily Caucasian.
Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature.”
Listening, empathy and truly understanding the “other” as a nuanced person with perspectives, memories, dreams, loves and fears, is the heart and soul of true relationships.
When we listen to the stories of those who are unlike us, we can enter into true relationship with them.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a Nigerian born author who is an alumnus of Yale, Princeton and Harvard.
A poet laureate is a title officially bestowed upon a writer, usually by a monarch or government, to compose poems for special events and occasions.
The annual stipend supports the artist in residence to compose such poems and works that articulate the nation’s literary voice.
The role stems from classical tradition when poets and heroes were crowned with a laurel wreath for winning perfomances. It was reinstated in the 1300s in the royal courts of Italy and in the 1500s in Britain by King Henry VII.
Currently, over a dozen national governments continue the poet laureate tradition.
In the USA the poet laureate is described as one who:
serves as the nation’s official poet. During his or her term, the Poet Laureate seeks to raise the national consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry.
In the UK the poet laureate is described as one who:
n, pl poetslaureate
1. (Poetry) thepoetappointed as courtpoet of Britainwho is given a post as an officer of theRoyalHousehold.
What an amazing tradition, the governments and nations acknowledge the value in paying a skilled artist to capture the nations’ voice in rhyme and ballad!
If you were Poet Laureate what would you say about your nation?
This blog focuses much of its attention on how the narratives we absorb, define our identity – not only as psychological beings, but also as social and collective beings. Stories form our national identity, our religious identity and our ethnic identity.
Not only do the stories we tell describe our world and viewpoint, but in turn inform our action in relation to this world. It’s a cyclcial, a dialogic relationship.
So keen attention to our art and cultural forms such as narrative is vitally important to our heart: our social and psychological health.