The Colours of Life – Poetry Festival

When we say, “Let’s hear from you,” she advances to us

chanting fluently, her glance languid, in effortless song.”

– final verse from “The Ode of Tarafah” by Tarah ibn al-Abd

Bahrain’s earliest recorded poet was Tarafah ibn al ‘Abd born in 549AD.  But to simply call him a Bahraini poet belies his importance.  He was one of the seven Mu‘allaqāt, or the Hanging Ones, poets whose words were so highly prized they were written in gold onto Coptic linen and suspended over the Ka’ba in Mecca.

Bahrain’s sweet and salty sea, fishing dhows, pirates and pearls did not provide enough inspiration for Tarafah.  He left the island to roam the desert and write.    Although he did not travel as extensively as Ibn Battuta, he managed to journey through the Arabian Peninsula to Hira, in modern-day Iraq.    His poetic abilities preceded him but his uncourtly manners and satirical verses about King Amr ultimately led to his chosen execution – being filled with wine then bled to death.

Fifteen hundred years later, modern Bahraini poetry is attributed to Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa (1850-1933) for whom the Center for Culture and Research is named after.  An advocate for formal education including for women, Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa (1876-1964) known as Al Waeli’s poetry had the greatest influence on the progressive movement.  Contemporary poetry grew with the founding of the Bahrain Writers Association in 1969 and with the “70s” and “90s”, poets who emerged in the 1970s and the 1990s.

It is quite an honor for the Second Circle, a poetry group guided by David Hollywood, to be invited by the Ministry of Culture to perform their poetry at Qal’at al-Bahrain (the Bahrain Fort) on the shore of the Arabian Gulf

The Colour of Light Festival will take place this summer solstice, Thursday, June 21st at 7:30pm.  The event is free and open to the public.

Part of the 2012 Manama Arab Capital of Culture events, this poetry festival will feature the poets reading their original works in both Arabic and English.  It is not quite the equivalent of a Hanging One, but being invited to perform at a UNESCO World Heritage site is not such a bad stage to star on.

It was from this spot, the capital of ancient Delmun, the Sumerian verses for Enki the Water God said,

“Let the city of Delmun become the port

For the whole world.”



Tales by Chapter

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