A note on: The StAnza Poetry Festival 2016 - Diary & Documention

StAnza is one of the UK’s principal poetry festivals, respected around the world, and drawing in a really admirable range of poets and events and audiences. I was very pleased then, having had many friends attend and perform, to be part of the festival in 2016, and could not have been better treated or had a better time sharing my work through readings, performances, discussions and workshops. 

I have a page that explains my participation with a Festival Diary, pictures and videos:

four poems from Iraq in Colony

http://www.colony.ie/#!sjfowler/c1p49 the wonderful Irish journal Colony has published my four translations from the Iraqi poets I worked with for the Reel Iraq project a few months ago. A huge honour to have had the time with them. 

"A product of the remarkable Reel Iraq project in April 2014, where four British and four Iraqi poets spent a week together in the Safeen mountains of Kurdistan, I had the pleasure to spend time meeting and transliterating the work of Ahmad Abdel Hussein, Miriam Al Attar, Ali Wajeh and Zhawen Shally. These works appear without their Arabic originals to emphasise that in the process of their being reconstructed into English, I have transliterated, rather than translated the original poems, and while I was as loyal as I found myself able to be (feeling deeply responsible to the poets, if not the poems, I have actually been very careful to maintain the original texts, by my own mangling standards), they now exist somewhere between myself and the original authors, in a no man’s land of sorts, possessed by neither, and better for that. They are four complete failures. – SJ Fowler

in the name of god (lower case)
transliterated from the Arabic of Ahmed Abdel Hussein

you are the well of thirst
you are the black prize in the mouth of the wolf

leave off your endless light of miracles
which lights up the name of Iraq
raise up your blindfold
which has been gently knotted upon the eyes of Baghdad
gather the decorations of war from the thresholds of home
turn the guns of battle
to brooms, so that they might not kill
snuff out that light which propagates the darkness of the mothernight
and don’t leave my lover to course in dread
from her home to the halls, and from the halls to her home
but print on her heart instead, the furthest stars
until she knows while she’s tightening her hijab
that you are the rictus grin that proceeds death

Reel Festivals in Iraq & Syria Speaks

Reel Festivals is a remarkable organisation that promotes events and programs of literature in areas of conflict to celebrate diversity, build solidarity and create dialogue with audiences internationally. They organise these events to explore alternative stories through direct interaction and shared experiences and last month, I had the extraordinary privilege to be a beneficiary of this work, as part of the Reel Iraq project in Erbil, Kurdistan. I was among four British poets who worked together with a group of contemporary Iraqi and Kurdish poets on translations and collaborations before reading at the Niniti Literature Festival, thanks to the British Council.
Next month, thanks to Reel Arts, leading Syrian artists will tour Britain throughout June to launch Syria Speaks, an anthology of art and culture from the Syrian frontline. The line-up will include award-winning Damascus-based novelist Khaled Khalifa, video artist Khalil Younes, writer and film maker Zaher Omareen, and authors Malu Halasa and Robin Yassin-Kassab. The tour begins with an event at the Rich Mix Arts Centre on June 11th, in the main space, from 7.30pm. http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/syria-speaks-art-and-culture-from-the-frontline/
The book and tour, organised by Reel Festivals, aims to demonstrate how Syria’s artists are leading the country’s resistance against tyranny. Syria Speaks is the first book to provide a window on Syrian creativity since the uprising, showcasing the work of over 50 artists and writers.http://www.saqibooks.co.uk/2014/04/syrian-writers-artists-tour/
In the interim, while in Iraq I had the chance to write some blogs about the trip, which can be found here: http://blutkitt.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/reel-iraq-kurdistan-diary-1.html
& a suite of poems I wrote for the project have been published online by Reel Arts here http://www.reelfestivals.org/the-arbil-suite-a-history-of-erbil/ “The Arbil Suite is a poetic history of a city that rightfully claims itself to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited places on earth…”
& here are videos from the Niniti Literature festival: 
Ryan Van Winkle & Dan Gorman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5SrNw5Q3WKI
Kei Miller & Ahmad Abdel Hussein https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15yI3trw7ks
& there’s photos online here & here, as well as a great interview with Nia Davies who also attended, and more blogs from Ryan Van Winkle and others on the Reel Festivals site.
Please attend the event on June 11th if you’re free, and follow and support the remarkable work of this extraordinary organisation. http://www.reelfestivals.org/