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Forum Celebrates Literature’s Transformative Power

Growth—The 19th Annual Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue with (l-r) Anita Patterson, Giulia Pellizzato, Jim Garrison and J. Ashley Foster, was held at the Ikeda Center, Cambridge, Mass., Sept. 16, 2023. Photo by Marilyn Humphries.

by Mitch Bogen
Special to the Tribune 

Inspired by Daisaku Ikeda’s lifelong commitment to literature as a core aspect of his peacebuilding ethos, the Ikeda Center celebrated its 30th anniversary with a dialogue event devoted to that very topic.

Held on Sept. 16, the 19th Annual Ikeda Forum for Intercultural Dialogue featured eight scholar-panelists sharing their experiences and insights on the theme “Dialogues of the Heart: The Role of Literature in Fostering Inner Transformation and Peace.” 

The participating literature and education scholars were: Anita Patterson, of Boston University, who moderated the panel discussions; J. Ashley Foster, of California State University, Fresno; Jim Garrison, of Virginia Tech; Jason Goulah, of DePaul University; Ikea Johnson, of Salve Regina University; Giulia Pellizzato, of Harvard University; Kenneth Price, of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and Sarah Wider, of Colgate University. 

All of the panelists are contributors to the center’s forthcoming book Dialogues of the Heart: Daisaku Ikeda, Transnationalism, and American Literature. Dr. Patterson is the lead editor on the project.

The day was made even more special by the reading of a message from Mr. Ikeda commemorating both the center’s 30th anniversary and the forum.

In his message, Mr. Ikeda said that during this time of proliferating polarization and division in our world, the first thing each of us must do is “turn our gaze inward, into the depths of our own lives, in order to give dynamic expression to the inner transformation of oneself.”

He also spoke of how, as a young man, his mentor, Josei Toda, nurtured a love of literature in him along with faith in literature’s capacity to transcend “the ages and nation-states, race and religion.” 

He went on to explain that “In the years that followed, as a protege embracing Mr. Toda’s vision as my own, I set out on a journey across the world in the hope of bringing countries closer together. In doing so, I also sought to draw lessons from the finest literature of each country and share the deep emotions they evoked.”

His reason for doing so matched up perfectly with the purpose of the forum: “I firmly believe this evocative capacity of literature intimately resonates with the ‘dialogues of the heart’ that nurture an inner transformation of our lives and the spirit of peace.”

—Visit  for in-depth coverage of the event. 

October 13, 2023, World Tribune, p. 4

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