Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 March 2018

Emirates Airline Festival of Literature: The main stage acts at For the Love of Words

International poets will convene at Dubai Opera tonight in a celebration of words

Hussain Ali Lootah. Pawan Singh / The National
Hussain Ali Lootah. Pawan Singh / The National

Throughout its decade long run, poetry always held a special place as part of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. From small sessions and panel discussions, the event’s poetry theme has grown to encompass large scale performances. Tonight will be no different with the festival main poetry event held at Dubai Opera. Joining Lemn Sissay on the stage are 10 authors spanning different languages, countries and cultures. Here some of the names to look out for.

Simon Armitage

The British poet and playwright is also the Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford. With more than a dozen collections published, not to mention radio and television scripts and his editing of anthologies, Armitage is a man in high demand for his work, which has been described as intimate, surreal and comforting. But there is one thing for sure, don’t ever label it as sentimental. “It’s the enemy of poetry,” he told The National last year. “You look at something that you wrote in a poem and if it looks like something that might be written in a birthday card you buy in a supermarket, then it’s probably not going to be fresh. It is not going to be alert and hold your attention.”

Carol Ann Duffy

One of the biggest names on the English poetry scene, Carol Ann Duffy is Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom. The 62-year-old has been publishing her work since the age of 16 and went on to release various collections in addition to being the poetry critic for the UK’s The Guardian newspaper. During her time as poet laureate she composed a 46-line poem, Rings, to celebrate the 2011 wedding of Prince William in addition to one celebrating the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s II’s coronation.

Imtiaz Dharker

The Pakistani British poet’s prose has been appreciated by UK royalty, having won the Queen’s Gold Medal in 2014. Born in Lahore, she emigrated with family to Glasgow as a one-year-old and began writing from a young age with her first collection released in 1986. In addition to examining the nature of journeys, family and freedom, Dharker’s work also looks at the various aspect of life as a Muslim woman in the west.

Harry Baker

The spoken work artist was a hit when making his debut appearance at the festival last year. Ever since winning the 2012 World Slam Competition, Baker went on to perform in literature and arts festivals in Europe and Australia and has published his debut collection The Sunshine Kid in 2015. Quirky and touching, Baker’s tackles big life question from interesting vantage points. A good example is 2014’s A Love Poem for Lonely Prime Numbers which has been viewed widely on YouTube.

Hussain Lootah

The Emirati author made waves last year with the release of his semi-autobiographical English novel Between Two Wives - his account of his marriage to two women from different backgrounds. Tonight night will find Lootah reverting to his first literary love of poetry. Expect to hear new and previously published pieces detailing personal experiences and life in the region.


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