One of the Cairo events will be hosted at the New Ma3di bookshop Kotob Khan. Owner Karam Youssef explicitly linked the event with the struggle for democracy in North Africa.
She wanted Kotob Khan to participate, she said, “because it is to celebrate poems glorify justice, social justice, freedom, equality.” Kotob Khan invited poets whose works “reflect and express freedom, justice, liberty, social justice” and more, she said. Scheduled poets are Zein El Abideen Fouad, Yasser Abdel Latif, Wael Abdel Fatah, and Alaa Khalid.
Sharjah event organizer Marwa Yehia said that her city’s event is less explicitly political. It’s “a good opportunity [for] people from different nationalities in the UAE to come together, share their passion for literature and express themselves and opinions through poetry. We look at the event as a celebration of poetry in general; so we are not looking for a specific type of poets. All are welcome to come and express themselves through their work or the work of their favourite poets.”
This doesn’t preclude poets who address social issues, Yehia said. “For example, I will be reading a poem by Nizar Qabbani titled ‘Prostitution,’ which draws a very powerful image of this phenomena and shows how women are judged and criticised while men are never to be blamed.”
She said that well-known Emirati poets Rashid Sharrar and Rayana al Oud would be reading, and others would read in Arabic, English, Urdu, Malayalam, Russian, Italian, and Turkish. The Sharjah event is set to begin this Saturday around 8 p.m. at the Barjeel Gallery, Maraya Art Centre, Al Qasba.
Other “100 Thousand Poets for Change” events will take place in at least 450 cities and 95 countries around the world.