Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates – In recognition of the UAE’s rich tradition of oral storytelling and poetry, the capital will host the inaugural Abu Dhabi International Poetry Festival on March 19, which will bring together some of the world’s leading poets, such as well-known Americans, Patricia Smith, Kane Smego and G Yamazawa, to participate in a rich and multi-cultural programme alongside recognized Emirati and regional poets.
The event will be the Middle East’s first-ever festival dedicated solely to spoken and written poetic verse and will feature an exciting blend of workshops, open mics, slams, and competitions followed by the grand finale of performances that will showcase the talent of leading Arab and Western poets.
Founded by Rooftop Rhythms and BrandMoxie, The Abu Dhabi International Poetry Festival is being hosted by the event’s patron, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, with support from the US Embassy of Abu Dhabi and Fatima bintHazza Cultural Foundation.
Award-winning poet, Dorian “Paul D” Rogers, is the founder of Rooftop Rhythms, a well-known platform for nurturing poetry in the UAE. He shared the vision for the event. “Nothing captures the human experience and inspires the soul quite like poetry – it is a legacy for this great country. For us, holding the Abu Dhabi International Poetry Festival here is a way of bringing poetry to its very source.”
Sana Bagersh, CEO of BrandMoxie added, “We’re excited to be working with Rooftop Rhythms, Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, and our partners to celebrate the culture and tradition of the spoken word. We are all huge believers in community engagement and in nurturing creativity, and, with this, we’ll be reaching out to schools, universities, and community groups to make it an inclusive affair.”
The festival’s headliner is Patricia Smith, National Book Award finalist and three-time National Poetry Slam champion, who will be accompanied by fellow Americans, Kane Smego, and G Yamazawa. Home-grown local talent will also have a chance to shine, performing at the evening gala, as well as taking part in the daytime workshops, open mic events in English, French, and Arabic, and a poetry slam competition. The festival will provide free, writing and performance workshops, lectures, as well as a writing competition. This cultural celebration will be inclusive to all ages, attracting the participation of schools and universities, all the while providing positive, family-friendly entertainment.
Eisa Al Raeesi, Head of Student Affairs at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi said, “Our university is committed to making Abu Dhabi a hub for cultural diversification as it is mentioned in the university’s moto, ‘A bridge between civilizations’. It is an honor to work hand-in-hand with our partners to realize this.
Jeremy Jewett, Cultural Affairs Officer at the US Embassy of Abu Dhabi added, “The Abu Dhabi International Poetry Festival will be a fun cross-cultural celebration. There’s so much in poetry that links different people together no matter the language. We love to help support programmes that bring unique American artists and experts over to engage directly with locals. I’m really excited about the schedule that BrandMoxie and Rooftop Rhythms have put together and the American poets that plan to come to Abu Dhabi.”