Tag Archives Baha’i writer

Illuminations – A Book of Poetry by June Perkins

In The Dawn-Breakers, the Bab quotes a well-known Islamic tradition that states, “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.” June Perkins’ book of poems, Illuminations, written in honor of the bicentenary anniversaries of the Births of Baha’u’llah and the Bab, seems to meet that description.

Illuminations contains 19 poems, one story, and is accompanied by the art of Ruha and Minaira Fifita. Some of the poems harken back to the days of The Dawn-Breakers and others are timeless in their setting but as a collection, June has deftly sewn them all together: each poem is a jewel, the collection is a well-arranged piece of jewelry.

June tells us all about her book in this interview and we hope you enjoy our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as a poet?

Poetry has been a lifelong friend, through thick and thin, from my youngest brother’s acquired head injury to living through Cyclone Yasi and its aftermath and encountering the trials and joys of life.

I think of poets as canaries flying into the darkness of human experience to emerge with balls of light. Poetry, as well as being a way to make meaning of experiences, is a powerful way to pay tribute to all we might be grateful in our lives, from people to places, to a sense of the Divine, or a Great Spirit, we may call God. Continue reading

Eagles in the Dust: Alcohol and Other Chemical Pastimes – A Book by Robert Cacchioni

I live in a culture very much steeped in alcohol where my choice to not drink or do drugs isn’t the norm and invites a lot of questions. We have a two articles on Baha’i Blog that talk about alcohol (this article explores a social perspective behind why Baha’is don’t drink, and this article explores a health perspective). George Ronald has published a new book that covers this topic more broadly and in more depth: it’s called Eagles in the Dust: Alcohol and Other Chemical Pastimes and it’s by Robert (Rob) Cacchioni. In this interview he tells us a little about his book:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I encountered the Baha’i Faith 20 years ago. As a student of comparative religion, I found its claims bold and intriguing – though questionable. After in-depth study and much debate, I was honored to join the Baha’i community in carrying out Baha’u’llah’s Vision for humanity.

Since embracing Baha’u’llah’s Claim, I’ve striven to understand His Faith and aid others to do likewise. For nearly two decades, I’ve held Baha’i study classes (also known as “deepenings”) and currently run a YouTube channel: Bridging Beliefs. There and in writing projects, I share my personal understandings of Baha’u’llah’s Vision, attempt to resolve purported divides separating the world religions, examine atheist and secular thought and to show the (at times) hidden brilliance of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings.

I currently live in Vancouver, Canada with my wife Jenny and two children, Eli and Layli. I am a lover of learning and the arts – martial and musical. My life’s goal is to (one day) become worthy of the title: Baha’i. Continue reading

From Behind All the Veils: A Children’s Book About Tahirih by Susan Hansen

I do not remember when I first heard the story of the life of Tahirih but once I learned it, I couldn’t forget it. Susan Hansen has created a book for children called From Behind All the Veils that introduces who Tahirih was, her remarkable qualities, and her esteemed place not only in Baha’i history, but in the advancement of all humankind. Susan graciously agreed to tell us about her book:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a teacher of multi-lingual students at an elementary school in Texas. I am also the mother of four adult children. I was born in Iran to a Baha’i family. My ancestors on my mother and father’s side were early Babis who later became Baha’is. So I have personal connections to the stories of The Dawn-Breakers. I also lived in Venezuela as a Baha’i pioneer for twelve years and was constantly inspired by the depth of Faith and sacrifice of those who had responded on their own to the Message of Baha’u’llah.

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A Tribute to Robert Hayden

Robert Hayden: 4 Aug 1913 - 25 Feb 1980. (Photo: US National Baha'i Archives)

Poetry and the literary arts hold special significance in the Baha’i writings. Some early Baha’is sent poetry to Abdu’l-Baha and here is an excerpt of a Tablet sent in reply:

O thou maid-servant of God! Thy poetry was received. The context was elegant. The words were eloquent and the theme, the Manifest Light. Consequently, it was highly appreciated. Endeavor, so far as it is possible for thee, that day by day thou mayest string the pearls of poesy with sweeter rhythm and more eloquent contents, in order that it may become conducive to the perpetuity of thy name in the spiritual meetings. Upon thee be greeting and praise!

In this article I attempt to pay tribute to a Robert Hayden, a Baha’i who made outstanding contributions to the art of poetry. Continue reading

Spirit Within Club 2 – A Book for Youth & Children by Sahar Sabati

Sahar Sabati is an incredibly talented writer who has been honing her craft for years. I heard about Sahar and her infectious laugh long before I met her and I’m grateful to call her my friend. Sahar recently released a sequel. It’s called Spirit Within Club 2. I hope you enjoy our conversation all about it:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My parents were international pioneers throughout my childhood and teenager years, and I was incredibly lucky to be involved in some great projects from a very young age. Don’t get me wrong, I of course had very age appropriate tasks and responsibilities! But it was a life-defining experience, to be trusted with things that seemed, at the time, so big and important to a child.

As a book lover, I was often disappointed that the adults in the books that I read were, more often than not, didn’t believe in the capacity of the kids that showed potential, and ended up surprised at what those kids accomplished. I also struggled to find books about kids like me—kids who were supported and nurtured in their desire to make the world a better place.

So I wrote Spirit Within Club and Spirit Within Club 2!

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Aflame with Devotion: A New Biography about the Hannen and Knobloch Families

Baha’is today are considered the spiritual descendants of the Dawn-Breakers, the very early Baha’is in Persia. But some are blessed to be able to actually trace their ancestry to families that played important roles in the history and the development of the Baha’i Faith. Judy Hannen Moe is one such person, and for the last few years she has been working on a book called Aflame with Devotion: The Hannen and Knobloch Families and the Early Days of the Baha’i Faith

Judy shared the story behind putting this book together and what she learned in the process:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Judy! To begin, can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a life-long Baha’i who grew up in this family of many generations of Baha’is, as you will discover when you read my book. I grew up in the vicinity of the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette, attending classes there with my four siblings, participating in a North Shore Baha’i youth group, attending many Baha’i functions, and listening to many wonderful Baha’i speakers. I attended Northern Illinois University back in the days of the civil rights movements and antiwar protests and met my husband of fifty years, Bruce Moe, there. We moved to Rockford 45 years ago and I have served on the Local Spritual Assembly there ever since. I’m very involved in community social action such as our Eliminate Racism Group and the Interfaith Council. My husband and I are both retired teachers now. We love going on road trips together around the country. I taught English as a Second Language for 25 years which gave me the opportunity to travel abroad several times. I have two grown children a son-in-law and a granddaughter spread out across the country. I love gardening, singing, creating art, crocheting, and going out to eat with my friends.

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The Lovebird’s Freedom: A Book for Children by Esther Maloney About Life After Death

Once, as a child, I attended a Baha’i winter school and made the most amazing friend: she was creative, fun and had a smile that lit up the room. She let me read part of a story she was writing and I was so impressed and in awe of her talent with words and her ability to weave a compelling and absorbing story. Fast forward a couple of decades and I am so excited and proud to interview her about her latest project, a book for children about the nature of the soul and life after death. Esther Maloney has a special gift for creating enchanting narratives and I’m delighted to hear all about The Lovebird’s Freedom and how it all came together.

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I grew up just outside of Montreal with my family. I’ve realized that moments from my early years with my grandmother Lucille were very formative. She was immensely creative, fun and spiritual. We used paint and glue, we named paths in the forest, we wrote books together, wore costumes, sang songs and used these as ways to think about the big questions of life. Since that time, I have essentially kept doing those exact same things, but as a grown-up. I studied acting at Concordia University and worked as a theatre and film actor for almost a decade in Montreal and Toronto. I produced my own work, acted at the Shaw Festival, was a cartoon voice on CBC, did a bunch of commercials, acted in a film at the Toronto International Film Festival and learned a lot about my craft and process.

Throughout this, I had a nagging curiosity, which was related to how the arts, or making things, could be at the core of all our lives, both individually and in community. I worked with some inspiring community arts organizations through grants and eventually was able to serve with some other Baha’i friends in creating a project with youth who wanted to write their own scripts that extended the reach of some of the spiritual concepts in the junior youth program. Since that time, Illumine Media Project has created a number of short films and episodes which have been shared with thousands of young people and their families in Toronto neighbourhoods and schools. This work has led me to more questions about the role of stories, creative process and media in our lives and I’ve recently finished my MA in Education at the University of Toronto in that area.

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The Moon Was There: Glimpses of the Bab’s Childhood for Young Children

Alhan Rahimi is the author of Mulla Husayn: The Story of the Declaration of the Bab for Young Children and Ridvan Garden: The Story of the Festival of Ridvan for Young Children and she has also penned and published The Moon Was There: Glimpses of the Bab’s Childhood for Young Children. As a parent of little ones, I am so grateful to Alhan for creating these materials. Here’s what she shared with us about her book about the childhood of the Bab:

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write this book?

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to make the moon your main character?

Not being able to have any illustrations of the Manifestation of God was the main reason for thinking of a some other way to illustrate the story. And why the moon? Well, I think it’s special that the moon, which can be seen from everywhere on this planet, is the same moon that witnessed the Bab’s childhood!

Baha’i Blog: Who is the book’s target audience?

Children under the age of 5. However, anyone can enjoy reading it!

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John David Bosch: In the Vanguard of Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints

Angelina Diliberto Allen has written a vivid and striking biography of John David Bosch, an early American Baha’i. Based on her extensive research, we learn about how John discovered and embraced the Baha’i Faith under the tutelage of Helen Goodall, and his deep and lasting friendships with such luminaries as Thornton Chase, Hands of the Cause Amelia Collins, Roy Wilhelm, and Louis Gregory. We learn about how, along with his wife, Louise, he helped establish a Baha’i school in northern California. We hear about his encounters and his letters to Abdu’l-Baha. And we learn what it was like to be in Haifa in the hours and days following the passing of Abdu’l-Baha. Baha’i history comes to life in the pages of this book and it’s called John David Bosch: In the Vanguard of Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints. Angelina graciously agreed to tell us about her book and how it all came together:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was raised in a Baha’i family—and, like most Baha’is in America, I can trace my Baha’i ancestry back to the time when Abdu’l-Baha came to America in 1912. I guess that means that we can all trace our Baha’i ancestry, in one way or another, directly to Baha’u’llah! When I was a child, my family pioneered to Argentina and to several countries in Central America. As an adult, I pioneered to Southern Africa—mainly Swaziland and Botswana. I currently live in California where I have been a public high school English teacher for over 30 years. When I think about who I really am, I think I am like any Baha’i who has a longing for others to know this Cause. We all have moments when we wonder about how we could more effectively convey to our friends and neighbors the miracle of this Day and the bounties of becoming a Baha’i. Many of our friends wonder what it means when a person becomes a Baha’i: What’s different about it? What does “being a Baha’i” really look like? What happens? So, I wrote this book as a way to explain the extraordinary thing that can happen when an ordinary person becomes a Baha’i.

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The Poetry of Tahirih

The heroic life of Tahirih—Fatimih Umm-Salamih (1817- 1852)—has long been celebrated by playwrights, historians and Persian social reformers, especially those advocating women’s rights in present-day Iran. Though a 19th century poet of superb eloquence and variety, she is better known as a woman of dauntless faith, courage and resilience, whether by the Persian community in general or by the followers of the Baha’i religion, for whom she looms as one of the most memorable figures of the Heroic Age of the Baha’i Faith (1844-1921). Continue reading