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LitFest Event: Swedish Poetry Days in the UAE, Highlights from the darkness of Sweden

Posted on 18 April 2013 by Alice

The most recent event being held by the Emirates LitFest.

As part of the ‘Swedish Poetry Days in the UAE, Highlights from the darkness of Sweden’, the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature will be hosting a free event on Friday, April 26th at 7pm.

Poets Magnus William-Olsson, Hanna Hallgren, Johan Nordbeck, Hanna Nordenhök and Jassim Mohammed will be performing their work. They will be joined by guest poet Gloria Gervitz from Mexico, and local poets Nujoom Al Ghanem and Abdulla Al Hadyya.

A rare opportunity to hear some of Sweden’s finest poets, in an evening devoted to cross-cultural exchange between the UAE and Sweden, will take place in the atmospheric surroundings of Dar Al Adaab, the home of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, on Friday 26 April. The event, which is free, starts at 7pm and refreshments will be provided.

Magnus William-Olsson, Hanna Hallgren, Johan Nordbeck, Hanna Nordenhök and Jassim Mohammed will be performing their work, joined by guest poet Gloria Gervitz from Mexico, and local poets Nujoom Al Ghanem and Abdulla Al Hadyya.

The audience will listen to the poets reciting their poems in the original language as well as in Arabic and Swedish translation, to be followed by a broader discussion of Swedish poetry and other topics. English translation will also be available.

The evening is one in a series of events entitled ‘Swedish Poetry Days in the UAE, Highlights from the darkness of Sweden’, taking place as part of an initiative to encourage cultural exchange projects between Europe and the Arab world. The tour will also include appearances at the House of Poetry in Sharjah, the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair and the Swedish Embassy.

‘Swedish Poetry Days in the UAE’ is a collaboration between Almutawassit Association of Cultural Exchange and Reading Development; Noon Publishing House and the Association of Café Baghdad for Poetry and Music. They work together to encourage the translation of Swedish poetry into Arabic The first poetry tour took place in Damascus in 2008 and was followed by events in Magreb in 2010. Since then the group has published a series of five books. The poetry tour in the UAE has been organized to mark the first anniversary of the launch of this series.

The Poets

Magnus William Olsson is a poet, literary critic, and translator. He has published eight volumes of poetry, four books of essays on poetry, and two books of autobiographical short stories and translated poetry from ancient and modern Greek, Spanish and Danish into Swedish. His latest book is an essay on poetry and poetics, Läsningen föregår skriften – poesins aktualitet (Reading precedes writing – the actuality of poetry). Magnus is also the editor in chief of two series of books: W&W –Internationell poesi, the most prestigious in Sweden for international poetry, and Ariel/Litterär Kritik, a series of Scandinavian essays. He has been awarded several prizes, among others, the Karl Ven- nbergs pris (2995) Bellanpriset (2010) and Gunnar Ekelöfpriset (2011).

Hanna Hallgren is a Swedish poet and literary critic who has published several poetry collections. Her latest book is Roslära (2012) (The Doctrines of Roses). She defended her thesis in Gender Studies in 2008, and works as a researcher and teacher in Gender Studies and Artistic Research at several universities in Sweden and abroad.

Johan Nordbeck likes to work together with musicians and artists. His books include The Trees Go Down Landing (1982) Everything That Has Been Dead (1987) Entrails (1989) Are You Also Going Home? (1993)Music Gives You Big Shoes (1999) In collaboration with artist Jockum Nordström: We Did Not Know What Time It Was (2001) Go to the Foot, Go (2006) and Wall in Wall (2013).

Hanna Nordenhök is a Swedish writer and literary critic. Her first poetry book, Hiatus, was published in 2007 and since then she has published two more poetry books and a novel. In 2011 she was honoured with the Swedish Academy’s Lydia and Herman Erikssons scholarship for her work, and in 2013 her second novel, The White House in Simpang will be published by Norstedts publishing house.
Nordenhök also has written drama plays and translated Spanish poetry.

Jassim Mohammed is a Poet and translator. His work includes a collaboration with two Swedish poets,When I Was Young (2002), and Exercises in Another Language (2005). In 2011 he published his book In Your Mouth, which was chosen as one of the most important collections of Swedish poetry issued that year.

He has translated many poems form Arabic, including the collection Continents Epidemics by the poet Fawzi Karim, a selection of poems by Mahmoud Braikan and Salim Barakat and works by Faraj Bayrakdar, Sargon Boulos, Saif al Rahbi and Saadi Youssef. His translations into Arabic include: “Dance of the Poem”, by Anna Smith, “The Only Necessity” by Shell Espmark, and “Tripartite” by Bruno. K. Auer. He worked as a journalist and columnist for several Swedish newspapers and radio. He also was, for 10 years, coordinator of Rinkebi Book Fair in Stockholm. In 2010 he was awarded the Swedish definition Prize in literature by the Swedish Academy and a ‘nine – De Nio’ literary prize.

Gloria Gervitz was born in 1943 in Mexico City, where she still lives. She worked on one enormous poem,Migraciones, for 30 years, which

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she finally completed in 2003. Her work has appeared in a number of anthologies in Mexico and the USA, and has been translated into several languages. In 2011 she was awarded the Mexico PEN Prize for Literary Excellence.

Nujoom Al Ghanem has been described as ‘one of the strongest modern Emirati poets. Nujoom holds a BA in Television Production from Ohio University (1996) and a Master’s degree in cinema direction from Griffith University (1999). She started writing poetry in the late 1970’s, but did not publish until the early 1980s. She finds prose poetry the best form to express herself and describe her world and has published six collections of poetry, the first of which was Paradise Evening (1989). She has also directed four short films, including the documentary Al Mureed (2008). which was exhibited at the Fifth Dubai International Film Festival, where Nujoom was given the Best Emirati Female Filmmaker Award. She has participated in many festivals and other cultural events in the Arab World and Europe. After appearing at Emirates Litfest 2010, she embarked on a mini-tour organised by Banipal Magazine and the Emirates Foundation, visiting the Ledbury Poetry Festival and the London Literature Festival.

Abdulla Al Hadyya is an Emirati poet and journalist and writes a weekly column in Al Khaleej newspaper. He holds a bachelor degree in Arabic literature. Abdullah has anchored a number of programs on Sharjah Radio and RAK Radio and has published several poetry collections.


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