x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Poets for the millions compete again

From Arabic poetry to Filipino hard rock, the culture scene continues to thrive despite the onset of summer.

Last year's winner, Seedi Mohammed celebrates his win in the Prince of Poets contest.
Last year's winner, Seedi Mohammed celebrates his win in the Prince of Poets contest.

Judging by the unfortunate state that the Britain's Got Talent runner-up Susan Boyle has found herself in recently, it's a wonder that anyone still volunteers for talent shows. But apparently it takes more than the threat of a public meltdown to deter the world's hopefuls from pursuing their 15 minutes of fame. The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage will launch its third annual Prince of Poets competition this week. The show will be broadcast live every Thursday night over the coming months.

The list has been whittled down from several thousand applicants from all across the Arabic speaking world to just 35 verse-wielding contenders. Over the course of the competition, the hopefuls will engage in lyrical battle in the hope of being crowned the Prince of Poets. The show will take place every Thursday at 10.30pm at Al Raha Beach Theatre. Doors will open at 9pm and entrance is free. Visitors are invited to just show up to the theatre; seats will be appointed on a first-come-first-served basis. Last year's winner was the Mauritanian poet Seedi Mohammed Weld Bamba, who earned the grand prize of Dh1,000,000 and whose final performance was watched by two million on TV.

This week's highlights also include up-and-coming cultural talent from other parts of the world. Dubai's Carbon 12 gallery is launching its Seven Positions exhibition, which will showcase works from - you guessed it - seven emerging artists. The line-up is as eclectic as it is limited, including four Austrians, two Iranians and a Mexican. With the exhibition, the gallery hopes to explore current artistic trends by understanding their stimulus - young artists driven by idealistic energy. Unlike Prince of Poets, however, the artists won't be systematically voted out over the course of the exhibition, nor will they have to endure public scrutiny and criticism (until The National does a review, that is.) Seven Positions opens on June 10 at 8pm and runs to Oct 10.

Regularly being on the receiving end of criticism is part of the job description for a stand-up comedian, and Tom Wrigglesworth is no exception. The softly spoken English comic, who will be performing as part of the Laughter Factory tour in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, often describes himself as having the body of Peter Crouch and the face of Postman Pat, and it's a fitting appraisal. The geeky comic has been compared to fellow Brit Daniel Kitson of the TV show Phoenix Nights, although it's mostly just the Yorkshire accent.

Tony Woods, the cool stand-up who will join Wrigglesworth on the jaunt, is the type to take full control of the audience for the duration of his show. The comedy line-up will be completed by the British comic Gordon Southern and will be appearing in Dubai.

Finishing off the week is The Strong South - a musical event to celebrate the 111th anniversary of the independence of the Philippines. We wholeheartedly believe that 111 years is an important milestone and deserves its own commemorative gift, such as silk, ruby or diamond - suggestions on the back of a postcard, please. A night of Filipino hard-rock will take place at Dubai's Alpha Club, Le Meridien Hotel, on June 13 to celebrate what is one of the country's biggest holidays. The line-up in Dubai will include the thrash metallers Dangwa, the nu-metal outfit Shades of Grey and plenty of other bands playing a mixture of covers and original material. The night, which is aiming to attract members of the Filipino community and others, will also include DJs and graffiti artists.