EAIFL Day 3: In True Festival Spirit

Posted on March 17, 2010


Day 3 of the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature was probably the day with the most attendance; being a public holiday might have had something to do with it.

When I arrived at the venue at 10.00am, the InterCon was teeming with the anticipation of another lit-induced high. Sessions were due to start for the day in an hour, and ‘neighburhood’ was abuzz with  wandering early birds, hordes of school children dressed in a myriad of costumes making their way to participate in the Grand Parade, and the 103.8 live broadcast with John Deykin already underway.

Following a bit of a blather for my 10 minutes of on air fame (courtesy of the good folks of Dubai Eye), and after an unsuccessful attempt at chasing down Amit Chaudhuri for a quick chat, I headed off to my scheduled session; Poetry Readings by Imtiaz Dharker and Fadhil Al-Azzawi.

Now Imtiaz Dharker is an Indian born but British raised poet who claims that ‘nothing is to sacred for poetry.’ Clad in a loose flowing dress, Dharker took to the stand to recite a selection from her work; from odes about football to poems about pomegranates, from an emotional tribute to victims of honour killings, to a heavily accented dedication to the legendary tiffin box in The Dabba Dialogues. And so her point was proven.

Al-Azzawi’s selections on the other hand were based on a more serious undertone. Born in Iraq, but having migrated to Germany and lived there for a good portion of his life, Al-Azzawi has managed to find that perfect blend of cultures, as was reflected in his recitation of The Lion and The Apostle and a more amusing The Book of Lies.

Following the reading, both poets were subjected to a barrage of questions from the audience, and as expected their responses were poetic at best. Dharker exposed the secret behind her inspiration by saying: “Life finds it’s way into your poetry. We’re like rivers, touching all the banks as we pass; where all the banks and life surrounding it, seeps it’s way into our poems as we flow by.”

And speaking of his migration from his mother land to settle in Europe, Al-Azzawi had this to say about the change: “You might have to get shed of a part of you to make way for a better portion; yet it’s upto you to decide what to let go in order to accelerate that positive change.”

Although both artists had similar stories to share, both were equally passionate about their craft in their own melodious ways. And it was this healthy mismatch that suited for a very interesting session.

Regrettably, other commitments prevented me from staying on to witness and be a part of the rest of the day’s happenings. But from what I hear, Marjane Satrapi was a riot, Roger McGough a poetic genius, and Yann Martel a terribly insightful man. And in addition to the author discourses and various interactive workshops for the kids, the much-awaited social media session organized by the local

Twitter community was also said to have been a resounding success; bringing to an end another eventful day at the Lit Fest.