Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Opening - Emirates Airlines Literary Festival

I slipped into the opening ceremony trying to find short listed author Rachel Hore and i had no idea what delight I had in store. After the short welcoming speeches from Maurice Flanagan and Isobel Abulhoul, came some Arabic poetry and I will confess here to being a bit concerned that not having had that second cup of coffee that I would gently nod off – not a chance. Despite having the headphones for instant translation, I was spellbound with the sheer magic of the ‘melody’ of the language that Khaled Al Budoor read. I was entranced and enchanted. Next the poem was read in English and I expected disappointment to settle on me very quickly but no – Fadhil Al Awazzvi’s delivery was entirely different and completely compelling. Towards the end of the poem he was amazingly animated and his delivery reminded me of a moving plain sung mass.
I was feeling that nothing could top this and wondered why I had left the joys of poetry back with my university days. I was unprepared for the delights of crime writer Jeffrey Deaver’s poem ‘The Death of Reading’. Each stanza contained a surprise a twist and turn which I suppose would be expected from a crime writer, but in prose not in verse which owed much to Dr. Suess. It was brilliantly light.
I hope he won’t mind if i print the first stanza:
I’ve got what I think is the very best job.
I have no commute; I can dress like a slob
I get paid to make up things-isn’t that neat?—
Just like at the White House and 10 Downing Street
Next Paul Blezard and Fadhil Al Awazzi read out their chosen favourite opening lines – English and Arabic. It was a lesson definitive in how to begin a book.

Unfortunately I slipped away before the final and I am reliably told I truly missed out on one of the highlights of the day – and I find that hard to believe as yesterday was so full of highlights.

The atmosphere this at the festival so far is buzzy yet calm – the organization is going so well. Authors seemed relaxed and are to be spotted wandering about enjoying the scenery and attending the sessions as I was delighted to discover. The children’s author Michelle Paver was seated beside me for the first session of the festival – Reading the Future: Emerging Emirati Children’s Writers. More about this later.

Have just had the most fabulous morning introducing Michelle Paver and Garth Nix and I was able to watch the magic that Roger McGough wove about the children with poetry– more about these later.

7 comments:

HelenMHunt said...

Sounds like a fantastic experience.

Karen said...

Sounds wonderful :o)

Chris Stovell said...

One of my personal claims to fame is that I stood next to Roger McGough at the student bar at UEA... but I was too shy to say anything!

Debs said...

It sounds like you're having an amazing time.

Flowerpot said...

Sounds great Liz - good to hear about it.

DJ Kirkby said...

More please :)

Sally Clements said...

I love Jeff Deaver's writing. I've even blogged about it last year! He really is the master of the written word! Sounds like a great festival. Happy St Patrick's Day! p.s. am serialising my St Patrick's Day romantic short story over on my blog, starting today, do check it out!