“Who’s going to go home and fall in love tonight?” laughed Bahareh Amidi, the UAE-based American-Iranian poet featured at NYUAD’s Earth Day reading, after the conclusion of a student piece. “I certainly am going to. You can tell we are around the energy of university students. This is beautiful, just beautiful.”
The energy that night was indeed beautiful. Soft acoustic guitar and banjo music — courtesy of NYUAD sophomore Manuel Nivia and NYU study abroad student Gillian Avina — played in the background in accompaniment to Amidi’s and students’ lyrical readings, birds chirped in the garden, and the weather was still unseasonably cool for an Abu Dhabi April.
The Earth Day poetry reading, a spoken word celebration honoring the beauty of language and the earth, was organized by first-year student Esther Olayiwola, NYUAD professor Deborah Williams, and Amidi, in collaboration with Ecoherence and the NYU Abu Dhabi Poetry Society. Students Michael Neubauer, Yannick Trapman O’Brien, Sanyu Bliss, Jorge Zarate, and Cristobal Martinez also shared their work at the reading, which drew not only students and faculty, but also attracted listeners from around the city.
Events like this are really important to me because they become a bridge between our school and the city.
There was a perceptible sense of calm in the air as the audience let the words wash over them. Amidi was warm and energetic, welcoming listeners with her words, and pulling the audience into the worlds created by her many “beautiful notebooks.” The familial atmosphere was heightened by the presence of Amidi’s mother, who traveled from the United States to hear her daughter recite; Amidi honored her with a poem recited in both Farsi and English.
Another of her poems, entitled “Mobilizing the Earth with a Poem,” was written in response to this year’s Earth Day Network slogan, “Mobilize the Earth.” The organization has been working since 1970 to implement “green” solutions to many world problems, and is currently leading projects to promote environmental education, a global green economy, and individual “acts of green.” Amidi’s poem asked listeners to “please protect yourself and the air around you / for that is the planet and that is your home and that is YOU.” If sustainable action is, as she says, “led by words,” then the Earth Day poetry reading was certainly a good start.
"Events like this are really important to me,” sophomore O’Brien said, “because they become a bridge between our school and the city. It takes a lot of little steps to get off Electra Street, but we're on our way."
Amidi and a selection of NYUAD students will also be performing alongside other Abu Dhabi poets on Wednesday, May 2, at the Abu Dhabi National Theater. A selection of Amidi’s poems, including those shared at the event, can be found by clicking the link to her website below.