Celebrating Yemeni Poetry, Art and Music [Archives:2007/1034/Local News]

March 19 2007

Craig Anderson
Sana'a, March 14th ) The French Cultural Centre, Sana'a held its second annual event Wednesday in celebration of Yemeni poetry. The event was conceived as part of a wider French cultural initiative called “Spring of Poetry” (Printemps des Poetes), an annual event now in its ninth year in France, aimed at raising the profile of poetry and providing a platform for young contemporary poets to present their work to a wider audience.

Co-Ordinator of cultural events at the centre, Anne-Claire Duperrier, spoke of the importance of once again giving poetry the recognition that it deserves in society, having lost its former fame to other forms of artistic expression in recent years. She noted that this was particularly so in a country such as France, famed as it is for its rich poetic heritage. It was for this reason that the French Ministry of Culture launched the “Printemps des Poetes” event in 1998 to try and recall to the minds of the French people the past greats of French poetry, such as Baudelaire and Rimbauld.

The French Cultural Centre in Sana'a, following the success of their 2006 event with famed Yemeni poet Abdulaziz Al-Makale, decided to focus this year's celebration upon the subject of women's poetry. This decision was taken in light of the recent visit to Yemen of French Minister for Cooperation, Development and Francophony, Brigitte Girardin, and the occurrence of International Women's Day on March 14th. During her visit to Yemen Girardin honored female Yemeni director Khadija Al-Salami in recognition of her cinematic works and contributions to French-Yemeni bilateral relations.

Accordingly, three female Yemeni poets, Nabila Al-Zubair, Nawal Al-Gobari and Sawasan Al-Ariqi, presented their work to an audience of both Yemenis and foreigners. The poets read aloud their poetry on a variety of issues for almost an hour to an appreciative audience who were at times moved to both smile and laugh. Of the poetry, Solveig Malvik, a student studying Arabic in Sana'a, said: “I found it refreshing to listen to Arab poetry not about love or politics. I am, of course, speaking as someone without any special knowledge on the subject, but the poetry felt like an innovative, very human take on these women's lives in Yemen”.

Complementing the poetry readings was an impressive exhibition of the calligraphy of Nabil Al-Wajeeh, in which he said, when speaking to Yemen Times, he sought to combine a traditional Yemeni style with a more modern approach to the art form. Further enhancing this evening of art and literature was a concert of traditional Yemeni music from Lahdj by Ahmed Awad Nasir and his band. The lively music created a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere in which a cluster of audience members were moved to dance, providing a fitting end to the evening's festivities.