Cyprus Mail

Poems for peace

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Over the years, we have developed many symbols for peace – the olive branch, a white dove, the index and middle finger held up together and the list goes on. When artist and peace activist Rose Marie Gnausch launched a peace art project in Nicosia 12 years ago, she put the elephant at its forefront. Now, the project transforms into a poetry competition calling everyone to join in and share words about the wisdom of this animal and what it can teach us.

Its enormous size, weight and strength could inspire awe and fear, however, the elephant’s tender care for sick members of the community and baby elephants is what impresses most and what caught Rose Marie’s attention and make it the project’s focus. Though giants among animals, they are peaceful creatures who do not tread aggressively through the jungle to attack their neighbours.

In fact, the elephant’s care for its community and understanding of others symbolises for Rose Marie the situation in Cyprus between its two main communities. As such, an exhibition event took place in 2009 near the Ledra checkpoint with the two mayors from both the Greek-Cypriot and Turkish-Cypriot communities and exhibited elephants which children and young people had created. On display were also art objects involving elephants from all over the world. Rose Marie intended to make children and grown-ups think about what is needed to live peacefully with yourself and your neighbours. Hence the use of the elephant.

After starting in Cyprus, Rose Marie travelled from country to country, from Germany to France, Spain and Italy to work in schools and kindergartens to make children and adults think about these peaceful animals and create art objects with the elephant as the focus. She continued her journey and went to, amongst others, Israel, Palestine and Lebanon, had priests, rabbis and imams inaugurate exhibitions, which created a human bond beyond denominations.

Now, she has initiated a competition and sends out an appeal to children and adults to write a poem or prose text about the wisdom of the elephant in order to make humans more sensitive about our neighbours’ plight. Until the end of 2021, everyone is invited to send their poem to [email protected] and let elephants be the inspiration.


Poems for Peace

Poetry competition about elephants and their wisdom. Deadline: December 31, 2021. Submit to [email protected]

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