SHARJAH: Poetry lingers on even in this modern age.
What is more gratifying is, amid the continuous technological innovations and the seemingly busier life everyone has each day, not only families and friends, but strangers as well, are around for the ear and the hand, even for the simplest of poems by children.
This was the scene inside the white-painted walls of the Barjeel Gallery at the Maraya Art Centre in Al Qasba, Sharjah on the evening of the second Federal National Council elections on Saturday.
As Emiratis let their voice be heard through the ballot, various nationalities, including the UAE’s distinguished poets Rashid Sharar and Rayanat Al Oud let their creativity be part of the “100 Thousand Poets for Change.”
The event simultaneously took place in Australasia, United States and the UAE throughout the day on Saturday.
They read their own compositions or others’ poems in Arabic, English, Urdu and Malayalam either from a hardbound book, loose leaves of white paper, a small spiral notebook, from a yellow gold mobile phone or from their memory.
A poet since 18 years of age, Sharar told The Gulf Today that poetry is the soul of life.
“Without poetry and poems, there would be no songs,” said Sharar.
He read six poems from his collection, including two about Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, one about the wife of the Ruler of Sharjah Sheikha Jawaher Bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, and three about love relations.
At 58, Sharar still continues expressing how he observes and feels life “through the heart.”
Shy at first, Aayisha Nur Bint Mohammad Ismail, 8, received a thunderous applause when she delivered her own English piece about her experience of home schooling.
“It is sometimes hard to write but I love the rhyming stuff,” said Ismail, whose first foray into poetry reading was through the Abu Dhabi Book Fair last March.
Her sister Khadijah said that Ismail’s first poetry was about butterflies at the age of four, which she discovered when she was rummaging through their belongings.
Their mother, Maryam, acknowledged that her daughter’s introduction to the art of poetry was through the home schooling curriculum, which delves into its appreciation for writing.
Asma Mohammad, 16, from Egypt, is another example among the youth that this literature will still be very much around.
At first she delivered in Arabic a melancholic poem she had written about the early 2011 turbulence in her homeland as well as a soulful poetry of unrequited love, Mohammad volunteered for the third one from her collection of over 20 personal poems when Arabic Book Club member Marwa Yehia, a fellow Egyptian, recited with much gusto Syrian poet and diplomat Nizzar Qabbani’s “Prostitution.”
Retired banker-poet Kariman Zulfo and her daughter Hiba Rasheed demonstrated that writing was in their genes.
A poet since she was a student 48 years ago, Zulfo, who said that some of her compositions had been published in Al Khaleej two decades back, recited her very own classical Sudanese Arabic language poems namely “Ya Laitani As Mayatoho Nizara” (I wish I gave my son the name of Nizzar), an elegy for the Syrian “well-known literary genius”, and “Omdurman,” her hometown back in Sudan, she sorely misses.
It is only by writing in classical Arabic that she could help preserve Arabic poetry, which she described as “so rich and colourful,” Zulfo said.
Rasheed said her forte is the free-flowing lyrical English language, an example of which is her own “Mad Musings”: “I like complex, fancy vocabulary. How people interpret my poems is mind-enriching.”
Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) director Ahmed Al Ameri said the first time event at Al Qasba last Saturday was in line with the campaign of the SIBF “in the love of the written word.”
“The Arabic literature is so rich and dates back to 2,000 years. There have been a lot of poetry recitals both in classic Arabic and the slang UAE Arabic since 1996,” Al Ameri said.
It is through poetry reading sessions that cultures could be valued, he added.
Emirati poet Al Oud, who wrote her first poem 22 years ago, and Al Ameri believe the art of poetry writing and poetry reading sessions are the avenues through which people could inter-connect and empathise with one another.
Al Ameri and Yehia agreed that reading vis-à-vis the television prompts and fertilises the mind with imagery.
Claiming she “could not grasp and understand” why society allows prostitution to exist, Yehia chose to read Qabbani’s “Prostitution” as “the poet draws a very powerful image of this phenomena and shows how women are judged and criticised while men are never blamed.”
Emirates Publishers Association chairman, Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi,
who graced the occasion, said: “The event provided a good opportunity for people from across the UAE to come together, share their passion and express their opinions through poetry. While globally celebrated to promote serious social, environmental and political change, it showcases the positive that comes out of expressing ideas in a creative way, essentially proving that the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword.”