The bilingual poem performed in slam haiku talks about humanity’s goal of ending poverty and hunger; as well as promoting health, education, equality, clean energy, decent work, and more
Pioneering Emirati astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi is not only sharing his knowledge on space exploration, he is also lending his voice to inspire people to help change the world through poetry.
In a pre-recorded video released as part of the recent celebration of World Poetry Day, AlNeyadi recited a winning poem exploring the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in slam haiku (17-syllable Japanese form of poetry).
His poetry reading is part of Emirates Literature Foundation’s (ELF) collaboration with the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC), dubbed ELF in Space.
In the seven-minute video ‘ELF in Space Episode 3: Poetry in Space’, AlNeyadi performed with Emirati poet Dr Afra Atiq, slam poetry champion Harry Baker and winning child authors of the Voices of Future Generations competition, Hazza Ali Salem Mohamed Al Yileili and Ethan Dsouza.
The bilingual SDG poem performed in slam haiku talks about humanity’s goal of ending poverty and hunger; as well as promoting health, education, equality, clean energy, decent work, innovation, climate action, peace, social justice, collaboration, and more.
It was written for the Voices of Future Generations initiative and first performed in 2021 at the awards ceremony announcing the winners of the second round of the competition in the Middle East.
Collaboration and partnership
The Voices of Future Generations Goodwill Ambassador, Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, expressed her delight with the performance and how it brought to life so many of the Sustainable Development Goals, including partnerships.
She said: “It is through collaboration and partnership that we make real progress. The International Space Station (ISS) is one of the finest examples of what can be achieved when we work together towartowardds a common goal. I would like to thank everyone involved in making this incredible performance happen, and I know it will inspire a new generation of sustainability leaders.
“The UN has given us 17 shared goals; the sustainable development goals. All the children who engage with Voices of Future Generations are passionate about these goals, and about being a part of the solution as we work towards creating a better world for everyone. This initiative could inspire some of them to bring their creativity and innovative thinking to the space sector in the future, as well as thinking about how to bring cutting-edge space solutions to Earth problems,” she added.
First Space poem
In the same video, AlNeyadi was shown in a picture with Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, who is the first human to have ever a written a poem in space. AlNeyadi and Wakata briefly worked together on ISS before the 59-year old Japanese astronaut-poet returned to Earth with three other ISS crewmates on March 11.
Fourteen years ago, on March 31, 2009, Wakata wrote this poem as part of the Space Poem Chain from the Kibo (Japanese world for hope) module of ISS:
Afloat in the darkness before my eyes,
the watery planet bluely glows
How strong is my affection for that ancient home of ours,
how deep my gratitude for the gift of life.
Tomorrow, I will dare the blue sky
and open up worlds unknown
For there we have our dreams.
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