David Hollywood of Second Circle tells us about poetry in Bahrain
Time Out Bahrain staff
The second Colours of Life Poetry Festival takes place this month bringing together 17 poets who’ll be reading their own creations in a public performance. We caught up with director David Hollywood of the Second Circle poetry group to find out more.
This is the second time the event has taken place, what was the initiative to set it up initially?
It was a consequence of monthly poetry workshops I was hosting for the benefit of any interested individuals who shared a common enthusiasm for the genre.
When it became apparent that we were creating a live energy through increasing numbers each month, I thought it might be encouraging and stimulating to suggest a festival that would publicly harness, showcase and create a control over enthusiasms by putting the talents that were obviously developing into the public domain. Of course the great co-incidence was the Manama Capital of Arab Culture 2012 was being celebrated, so I approached the Ministry of Culture for acknowledgment and support and when they said yes it was a great idea, then the rest became history.
Following last year’s success, I was approached by the ministry, individuals from the audience on the night, Bahrain Writers’ Circle colleagues and tentative corporate interests asking if we might repeat the event on an annual basis. So now I plan to do this every year and gradually bring it around the Gulf region on the basis that it is a cosmopolitan reflection of where we are living, but with the stable tradition of an Arab influence always running through it. Consequently, 30 per cent of the poetry is in Arabic with the balance in English.
How long does it take to organise? In terms of preparation, I tend to turn my mind towards the festival from around November on the basis of recruiting who may be interested from that time. Over the period up to the end of January, the selection of poems and artists takes place so we can commence rehearsals from the beginning of February and, as momentum grows, we then meet every week as we get nearer to the evening.
Because it is performance poetry we have to prepare not just recitations of each work, but also voice projection, breathing exercises, tone, inflection, emotion, emphasis, movement, physical expression and several other supports so that we are entertaining for the audience.
How were the participating poets chosen? Poets are chosen on the basis that the work to be presented was written by the actual performer, so it is always an original piece and, as can be imagined, everyone has their own style, so hopefully it is always distracting and attractive because of the variance on stage. Otherwise, I want the poets to be seen to reflect the community we live in and that is why not just having a significant proportion of Bahrainis is important, but also that several other players come from all over the globe.
Are they all Bahrain residents? Everyone who is involved must be a resident, and this is because it demonstrates the commitment of themselves to this country.
What is the age range of the poets? Ages range from 19 to mid-60s.
The theme is Colours of Life, how does this translate into poetry? Are people talking about literal colour or how life appears in colour (eg red mist, feeling blue)? The theme reflects the lives we live. Sometimes we are unhappy (black) or sad (blue), confused (grey) or in love(red), happy(yellow), environmental(green) and so on, and this is what the colours are supposed to demonstrate - the moods, experiences, observations, thoughts, disappointments, celebrations etc we go through in a lifetime. Therefore on the evening of the performance, there are poems that are grouped together within that mood which hopefully make the audience feel dark or bright, philosophical or upset, relieved or silenced, shocked or confused and so on.
Is there a big difference in how it translates in the Arabic poetry compared to the English performances? When we hear the Arabic contributions there is a sense of high emotion which pervades each delivery and this can sometimes be stark in its comparison with what occasionally comes across as a rational picture or imagery when spoken in English.
Are any of last year’s participants taking part? We have nine people from last year who are performing again, and eight are total newcomers, so now there is an experienced and reassuring combination that is manifesting itself between everyone, and one of the bottom line insistences among us is that we are encouraging of one another. We are all in it together and consequently there is a great camaraderie. Colours of Life Poetry Festival. 7.30pm, Thu, June 13, Qal’at Al Bahrain. Entry is free but space is limited. Call David Hollywood (39 207 624)
David Hollywood from Ireland who is directing as well as performing
Azza Mohammed Khalil
interior designer from Sudan
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school teacher from India
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Hameed Al Qaed
poet and translator from Bahrain
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student from Sudan
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