Performance poetry lovers are in for a treat. Emirati scholar and poet Dr Afra Atiq, award-winning writer and broadcaster Lemn Sissay and Colombian-American poet from New York City Carlos Andrés Gómez will come together for a live digital event on the power of poetry.

Organised by the Emirates Literature Foundation as part of the Literary Conversation Across Borders series, the session will take place on Saturday, June 20, at 7.30pm. The sessions are free to watch but pre-registration is required at elfdubai.org.

Dr Afra Atiq is known for her artistic work that explores a broad range of topics, including heritage, culture, identity, legacy, self-acceptance and grief. She writes and performs in a blend of English, Arabic and French, and has been featured on numerous international platforms. She has also locally showcased her work, notably at the Dubai Opera, Louvre Abu Dhabi, PublisHer summit in Sharjah, and Abu Dhabi Art.

Lemn Sisay was awarded the PEN Pinter Prize last year
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The author of the critically acclaimed memoir, My Name is Why, published last year, Lemn has several collections of poetry to his credit. His series of Landmark poems are visible on buildings in London, Manchester, Huddersfield and Addis Ababa. Awarded the PEN Pinter Prize last year, given to writers who, in the words of Harold Pinter’s Nobel speech, “cast an unflinching, unswerving gaze upon the world”, he was appointed MBE for services to literature in 2014.

A star of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam and Spike Lee’s movie Inside Man with Denzel Washington, Carlos is also the author of Hijito, which was 2018’s Broken River Prize winner, and the memoir Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood.

“All three exceptional performance poets have taken part in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, but this will be the first occasion they will be appearing together,” said Isobel Abulhoul, CEO and trustee of the Emirates Literature Foundation (ELF). “It perfectly encapsulates the ‘Literary Conversations Across Borders’ project, bringing together the UAE, UK and USA in celebration of the power of poetry.”

Carlos Andrés Gómez's Hijito was 2018’s Broken River Prize winner
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The ‘Literary Conversations Across Borders’ project is a new initiative to promote international cultural understanding through the power of books and words launched by the UAE Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy and the ELF.

The inaugural event saw more than 3,500 people from 46 countries tune in to the live event with Indian author and politician Shashi Tharoor and Zaki Nusseibeh, Minister of State: Office of Public and Cultural Diplomacy, in a debate on how the events of 2020 will change the course of history.

Other sessions included Omar Ghobash and journalist Lesley Hazleton as they debated the impact of the pandemic on faith and belief systems; and celebrated environmentalist Dr Jane Goodall and Mariam Bint Mohammed Al Mheiri, Minister of State for Food Security, on how the pandemic might influence global food supply challenges and the natural world.

There will be eight sessions in this first Literary Conversations Across Borders series. Details at elfdubai.org.

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