ABU DHABI // A performance that included flailing of the arms, a loud exclamatory tone and a tinge of humour has seen Ali al Muri qualify for the second stage of the reality TV show Million's Poet. The fourth instalment of the traditional Arabic poetry contest, which attracts millions of viewers in the Middle East, kicked off on Wednesday night with the jury and experts describing it as the most promising season so far.
In the first stage of the contest, eight poets compete in each of the first six episodes. Two are chosen by the jury and two by audience votes to qualify for the second stage. Mr al Muri, from Qatar, and Satam bin Batla, from Saudi Arabia, won the jury's vote on Wednesday night. Mr al Muri, 28, drew laughs and cheers as he recited his poem. He had a verse about a "boy who fell", which he said was inspired by a dream he had after reading "Surah Yousef" from the Quran, which describes the story of Joseph.
Sultan al Amimi, a member of the jury and director of the Poetry Academy for the Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage, said the poem had a unique form of imagery. He described it as "a spicy pot of coffee". "I can do it, I can do it," declared Mr bin Batla as he descended the stairs on the stage to take his seat and recite his poem. Moving from one subject to the other, in what the jury described as a smooth transition, Mr bin Batla spoke about poetry itself with references to the competition.
"Only a successful poet can come up with this poem," said the jury member Hamad al Saeed, praising the poet for mentioning his fellow participants in the verses, when he said: "I condole every beautiful poet who has not been qualified." Mr al Amimi said: "Your recitation made the poem more beautiful, and you used beautiful phrasing." Speaking minutes before appearing on stage, the poet himself, Mr bin Batla, said: "I feel I have made an accomplishment to be in the first episode; the real game just started because the true gain is in winning the audience.
"I chose the poem that I will recite based on my feelings as a poet about poetry. My goal was to recite something that is driven by my inner feelings so the audience can feel it, too." Mr bin Batla said he had been writing Nabati poetry since he was 14 because he came from a family of Nabati poets, he had written this poem two weeks ago especially for the occasion. Based on audience votes throughout the week, two of the remaining six poets will qualify. They are Ebraheam al Belawi from Saudi Arabia, Ahmed al Dhabaei from the UAE, Thani al Dhahmashi from Saudi Arabia, Hameid al Muradi from Yemen, Roba al Douekat from Jordan and Abdula al Mutari from Kuwait.
The programme, launched in 2006, is designed to help to keep traditional, or Nabati, poetry alive. The show is broadcast live from Al Raha Beach Theatre every Wednesday at 10pm on Abu Dhabi TV. email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org