Sharjah International Book Fair 29th Edition

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Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
ExpoCenter 7th - 17th November, 2012. Hours | Saturday - Thursday: 10a.m. - 10p.m.; Friday: 4p.m - 10p.m.

Saturday, 3 March 2012 | On the wings of poesy


Poetic talents unleash imaginative flair in “Magic of Poetry” session; “Twinge SHJ” will reappear in October at the Sharjah International Book Fair and in a kids version, “Twinge KIDZ”, at the Sharjah Reading Festival in April

The UAE’s Cultural Capital of Sharjah throbs and lives up to its name.

This was the impression of the organiser of “Twinge SHJ”, which became the avenue for street life and time-honoured traditions to meld through the eyes of over 50 talents from various ethnic backgrounds and social status.

“Personally, I am overjoyed. I said it before and will say it again, Sharjah has taken me by surprise,” Sherif Abaza told The Gulf Today.

Abaza is the managing partner of Sphere-Events that came up with the idea of putting up the Twinge series of festivals over a year ago in the UAE, so that urban art - the style of art that evokes the city life as seen, observed and heard by artists, as opposed to traditional art - would have the platform in a country which has become the melting pot for over 150 nationalities.

The urban art and cultural festival ran every night from Feb. 25 to March 2 at the Maraya Art Centre of Al Qasba, following its debut in Dubai in December 2011.

For the support Abaza had experienced throughout the event which featured the art forms of literature, music, cuisine, fashion, filmography as well as the other visual arts, he said: “Everything from the hospitality of the venue and hosts at (the gallery), the dedication and collaborative spirit of the team from the Sharjah International Book Fair, the diversity of the participants, the enthusiasm of the attendees and the support of the community has gotten us already thinking about the next Twinge SHJ.”

Observing that there had been more women artists and performers who participated than men, Abaza said it was a “shift” from what “Twinge DXB” had.

“It was a 50-50 participation here for both men and women while it was 80 per cent of male participants in Dubai,” he said, adding that there were also more Emirati talents at “Twinge SHJ.”

To illustrate, he mentioned that for the festival’s “Magic of Poetry” session on Friday evening, there was an equal division between men and women.

They were Yuri Cipriano, Shamma Al Bastaki, Afra Atiq, Farah Chamma, Mujeeb Jaihoon, Asmaa Abdallah, Haneen Assaf, Abdullah Qasem and Mohammad Azimuddin.
Cipriano, a former seminarian in the Philippines, started writing poetry when he was courting his wife, Jhasmin, in 2001.

Saying he was glad that a Filipino had been invited to “Twinge SHJ,” Cipriano claimed that from love poems, he graduated to poems that expressed his compassion for social order and then the lives of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East.

Under his pen name Amos Tarana, he expressed hope that his collection of over 60 poems would soon be published in his home country.

The poems he shared on Friday evening were all in the Filipino language with English translations, one about the angst of a departing OFW, the second about the creativity of an OFW mother being a “transnational mother through the use of modern technology” and the third, about the saying “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

At 15, Emirati Al Bastaki was the youngest poet of the night. Her 74 poems from age seven were rich in the rhyme and rhythm of words which dwell on fantasy and her emotions, among others.

She said being a bookworm helped her in her literary adventure.

Emirati Atiq is Al Bastaki’s classmate at the Untitled Chapters, a creative writing group of Emirati women led by Fatma Al Bannai.

Also involved in theatre which she finds as the avenue for freedom of expression, Atiq is more into poetry, the literary piece “written to be listened to and seen.”

Palestinian Chamma is a veteran of the Twinge festivals.

It was her second occasion to share her poetry to an audience who heard about her thoughts on her decision to wear the hijab and on her being a daughter of Palestine.

Jaihoon began writing poetry 10 years ago and had published books.

It was the second night of participation for Qasem who was among the opening talents when “Twinge SHJ” debuted a week ago through the literature night and read his own version of a poem dedicated to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

Records showed the gallery had a total of 412 guests during the week for the festival with the “Passion for Fashion Night” having the highest number at 108, followed by the evenings of literature and film at 66; music at 55; poetry at 54; comedy at 38; and the publishers’ night at 25.

“Twinge SHJ” will reappear in October at the Sharjah International Book Fair and will have a kids version, “Twinge KIDZ”, at the Sharjah Reading Festival in April.

Emirati cuisine showcased to keep traditions alive

By Mariecar Jara-Puyod
Sharjah: Food completes a culture. The manner it is prepared is also an art, said Sherif Abaza.

Hence, at the just concluded “Twinge SHJ,” traditional Emirati cuisine took centre stage as well.

Abaza, whose brainchild is the successful week-long urban and cultural art festival, said, “We want to present an eclectic mix of art.”

Explaining further, he related cuisine to fashion, describing the former as “widespread” and the latter as “mainstream.”

“For us, both are an art and cooking, like fashion, is someone’s creativity,” added Abaza, who agreed that amid all the rapid progress and urbanisation the modern world is interested in, people must always look back to their origins.

For the festival, Shama Eid and several of her friends from Sharjah did the cooking themselves, with pots of mouthwatering haris (a dish made of wheat and meat or chicken), legamat (a deep-friend sweet made of flour, water and sugar), dungaw, marguga, balalit (a dessert made with vermicelli), and kabisa (a dessert made from flour, cashews, sultanas and saffron)– all so filling, especially for someone on a diet.

She said the food of the UAE is easy to cook with preparation timings ranging from 10 minutes to three hours.

“All of my children are already grown-up and are in university, so I have the time to cook for my business,” Eid said.

She feels good about her enterprise, saying that while there are a lot of fast-food outlets sprouting up, people from her own native place of Sharjah, cosmopolitan Dubai and far-off Umm Al Quwain, call her up for “home-made Emirati food.”

“It is good business,” Eid said, taking pride that as a housewife, she shares the role of bringing home the bacon, while carrying on with a tradition.