Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Power of poetry: Lemn Sissay, Afra Atiq and Carlos Gomez unite for Literary Conversations Across Borders

The digital sessions focus on issues including diplomacy, the environment and science, in a bid to promote cultural understanding

Lemn Sissay will talk about his recently published memoir, 'My Name is Why'. Aida Muluneh
Lemn Sissay will talk about his recently published memoir, 'My Name is Why'. Aida Muluneh

Internationally renowned poets Lemn Sissay, Afra Atiq and Carlos Gomez will come together for the next session of Literary Conversations Across Borders.

Organised by the Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy and the Emirates Literature Foundation, the eight-part Literary Conversations Across Borders programme aims to discuss some of the pressing issues facing the world today in the wake of the pandemic.

This will be the second session in the series, and will take place on Saturday, June 20, at 7.30pm (4.30pm UK time, 11.30am New York time).

The sessions are streamed on Emirates Literature Foundation's YouTube page upon pre-registration on the foundation's website.

The first session took place on Saturday, May 30, with more than 3,500 people tuning in from 46 countries. The event featured Indian politician and writer Shashi Tharoor, English primatologist and anthropologist Jane Goodall, and Emirati cultural and key government figures, such as Minister of State Zaki Nusseibeh, UAE Minister of State for Food Security Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri and Omar Ghobash, Assistant Minister of Public and Cultural Diplomacy.

Afra Atiq is an Emirati scholar and poet, whose work explores a broad range of topics. Courtesy Emirates Literature Foundation
Afra Atiq is an Emirati scholar and poet, whose work explores a broad range of topics. Courtesy Emirates Literature Foundation

This time, three poets at the top of their craft will lead the event.

British-Ethiopian poet Sissay, is a Bafta-nominated, award-winning international writer and broadcaster. He has written several collections of poetry and plays, and his critically acclaimed memoir, My Name is Why, was published last year. A number of his poems are etched on buildings in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. He was awarded an MBE for services to literature in 2014.

Atiq is an Emirati scholar and poet, whose work explores a broad range of topics, which include heritage, culture, identity, legacy, self-acceptance and grief. She writes and performs in a blend of English, Arabic and French.

Lastly, Gomez is a Colombian-American poet from New York City, and author of Hijito and the memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood. A star of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, TV One’s Verses and Flow, and having appeared in the Spike Lee film Inside Man with Denzel Washington, Gomez has a number of feathers in his cap.

“All three of these exceptional performance poets have taken part in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, but this will be the first occasion where they have appeared together,” says Isobel Abulhoul, chief executive of the Emirates Literature Foundation.

“They are all charismatic performers, never failing to evoke an emotional response from their audience, and this exhilarating event is really one not to be missed. It perfectly encapsulates the Literary Conversations Across Borders’ project, bringing together the UAE, UK and US in celebration of the power of poetry.”

Updated: June 15, 2020 04:16 PM

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