Recalling the ceremony this week, Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave said she had felt a growing desire to somehow reach out to those children with words of compassion, encouragement, and hope. The result is "Healing Light: Thirty Message of Love, Hope and Courage" (New York: Glitterati Incorporated, 96 pages, $30), a collection of verse prayers inspired by the children of 9/11 but suitable for a reader of any age who needs to lift his or her spirit. The book, says its author, is "for all those who strive to overcome the adversity of life and who seek comfort, joy, strength...to meet the challenges of today."
Though de Borchgrave had never written any poetry before, she says the words came pouring out of her onto the page, and within a month she had produced 30 delicately crafted gems -- points of light in a world darkened by devastation and terror, inflicted by both man and nature. The language is simple, meditative and, above all, honest. She has taken to heart Keats' admonition that poetry should be "unobtrusive, a thing that enters into one's soul and does not startle or amaze it with itself, but with its subject."
"My message is simple, the need for courage to overcome the fear within us, for hope to rebuild after the devastation of a tragic event, and for love and faith," de Borchgrave said Tuesday. The poems invoke a non-denominational diety, and the gorgeously reproduced, and largely unpublished, Indian Mughal miniature paintings as illustrations are both perfect visual counterpoints and serve to emphasize the book's universal application. "the details of the emotive animals, brilliant stars, and glorious flowers in the miniatures conveyed the same emotions (as the poems) and completed my message," she said.
The book preface is by India's foreign minister, K. Natwar Singh, who calls it "an inspirational reflection of a cosmic connectivity that binds the human race together in its quest for ultimate understanding." The foreword is by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, the Egyptian-born former Secretary General of the United Nations, who describes the work as "an oasis of compassion and inner calm."
That universality is also evident in the fact that some of the verses are a perfect fit for Hurricane Katrina. The poem "Sudden Gale" starts: "When change descends/like a sudden gale/Let my spirit be first/to stand and prevail./When wind and rain/ challenge the sun,/Let my step remain firm/until calm is won..." But generally Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave's benign vision of nature would do credit to St Francis of Assisi. The sun "warms our path/ in pursuit of peace;" life can be as fleeting as "the leap of a gazelle;" robins "sing on boughs of grace."
De Borchgrave may be new at the verse game, but she has a natural gift for metaphysical imagery, as in "Reveal the harmony/ between the rose and the bee/ As I seek the balance of life/on both land and sea./ Crystallize my existence/ in a drop of dew/ Sparkling, ephemeral/ with strivings of every hue./ Ignite my soul/ with the kiss of the sun/ And spur good deeds/ until my time has come." -- Roland Flamini, UPI Chief International Correspondent, September 13, 2005
From the Publisher
Alexandra was born in Washington, D.C. the daughter of former U.S. Ambassador Henry Villard. She spent most of her formative years living abroad in such countries as Norway, Libya, Switzerland and Senegal. She met her husband, internationally renowned journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave, in Paris. She traveled extensively as a photographer. Her portraits of President George Bush, the late King Hussein, Dr. Henry Kissinger, etc., have hung in government offices around the world.
Her book, Healing Light: 30 Messages of Love, Hope and Courage, is a collection of her inspirational poetry. On the second anniversary of 9/11, Alexandra watched all the children whose parents were killed in the terrorist attacks call out their names at the memorial ceremony in New York City. Alexandra found solace in writing down her thoughts, which flowed out of her in rhyme, at all hours of the day and night. After a month, she had written a book of prayers in the form of poems. One day a friend came for tea and when Alexandra showed her the poems, her friend said, "These prayers are not just for children, they are for all of us." The book was published on 9/11/05 and can be utilized by anyone experiencing tragedy in life. The Lower Manhatten Development Corporation has ordered 4,000 copies to give to the children whose parents were killed on 9/11/01. In an attempt to create a book that would be widely inspirational, Alexandra chose Indian Mughal paintings (acknowledged as some of the finest artworks from Asia). The book also has a dedicated section especially intended to help children cope.
An avid supporter of the Arts, Alexandra has chaired events for such organizations as the American Ballet Theater and Arts for the Aging. She has also served on a number of committees for the Washington Opera, the Washington Ballet and Meridian House. Alexandra was recently seen on C-SPAN and has also spoken at venues such as The New York Historical Society, the New York National Arts Club, the Washington Literacy Council, etc.
Her last book, Villard: The Life and Times of an American Titan, was about the life of her great-grandfather who, as a recently arrived immigrant from Germany, became a famous war correspondent in the civil war and a friend of Lincoln and then launched a business career. He funded all of Thomas Edisons early experiments, became the first president of GE, and built the Northern Pacific Railroad.
NEWSMAX.COM, "One Reporter's Opinion," George Putnam, September 23, 2005
Recently Alexandra Villard attended a ceremony marking the second anniversary of 9/11 and watched as the children of the terrorists' victims called out the names of parents killed in the attacks.
Alexandra was so deeply moved by the ceremony that she felt a desire to reach out to those youngsters with words of compassion and encouragement. The result is a book of poetry, "Healing Light: Thirty Messages of Love, Hope, and Courage" published by Glitterati, Inc. on the fourth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Alexandra had never written poetry before but is well known and respected for her news photography. While her husband was busy covering the affairs of state, Alexandra hid herself in a small office of their home and produced thirty poems for readers of any age to lift their spirits.
Alexandra told this reporter in a recent interview, "My message is simple - the need for courage to overcome the fear within us and for hope to rebuild after the devastation of a tragic event."
"Healing Light" is a book for all those who strive to overcome the adversity of life and who seek comfort, joy and strength to meet the challenges of today.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was so impressed, it ordered 4,000 copies to give to the children of the parents killed Sept. 11, 2001.
The book is beautifully illustrated with Indian Mughal miniature paintings and the foreword is by Boutros Boutros-Ghali, former secretary general of the United Nations, who describes Alexandra's poetic efforts as "an oasis of compassion and inner calm."
Alexandra is the daughter of former U.S. Ambassador Henry Villard. She is an avid supporter of the arts and has chaired events for such organizations as the American Ballet Theatre and Arts for the Aging.
PARADE MAGAZINE, Walter Scott, October 25, 2006
Q I heard that the head of the World Trade Center memorial foundation sent a book of inspirational poems to the families of 9/11 victims. What is its title, and whos the poet?Edward Taylor, New York, N.Y.
A Its called Healing Light: 30 Messages of Love, Hope and Courage, by Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, 59. "At the second anniversary of the attacks, I was moved by the faces of the children of the victims," she tells us. "In a months time, I wrote 30 poems." The book includes a section to help kids cope with adversity.
PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY, "New Age Titles," September 5, 2005
Photojournalist Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave's Healing Light: Thirty Messages of Love, Hope and Courage (Sept., $30) combines inspirational poetry with photos of Mughal paintings; foreword by former UN Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
SHE HAD A DREAM "On the second anniversary of the September 11 tragedy," Mrs. de Borchgrave stated, "I was inspired by the children going to Ground Zero. Two days later, I woke up with these poems in my head." The book is extravagantly adorned with Indian-themed Mogal paintings from the private collections of major museums and a forward by Boutros Boutros-Ghali.
We stopped by the home of former White House protocol chief Lucky Roosevelt on Tuesday for a party honoring Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, author of "Healing Light: Thirty Messages of Love, Hope and Courage." The hostess and author wore exotic robes in keeping with the book's illustrations -- ancient Indian Mogul paintings -- and 30 Rumi- esque inspirational poems that speak for themselves.