Sharjah Arab poetry Festival/ASL Poetry Videos – Poetry News Roundup January 9th

In today’s poetry news round up we head over the Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates to take a look at the 16th annual Sharjah Arab Poetry Festival as poetry becomes increasingly more popular in the Arab countries. Then we head to the US where the Rochester Institute of Technology has been given a grant to digitalise rare ASL poetry videos.

Sharjah Arab Poetry Festival

Yesterday saw the start of the 16th Sharjan Arab Poetry Festival which is taking place at the Sharjah Cultural Palace in Sharjah the third largest city in the United Arab Emirates. The ceremony which signalled the start of the festival began with the arrival of Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qasimi.

A total of 30 poets, both male and female will be attending the festival from 17 other Arab countries. The festival is due to run until the 12th January.

A poem written by Raad Aman, which discusses Sharjah’s work in supporting Arabic literature in all forms and the positive impact of the poetry houses of the Arab cities was the first event of the festival and was produced by the cities television station.
Karim Ma’touq from the UAE and Nour Eddin Sammoud from Tunisia; this years two chosen personalities of the festival were honoured by his Highness Sheikh Sultan.


Rare Videos of ASL Poetry and Literature to be Digitalised

The Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has received a grant that will enable it to digitalise a significant number of rare videos that document the ASL and literature movement at Rochester from the period 1970 to 2011. Once done this will give them one of the biggest publicly available ASL literature in the country.


The project is expected to take a year and staff from both the RIT library and the NTID will be working to digitize, caption, voice and then transcribe the videos in order to make them available online. It is hoped that this “once hidden” work of what is a rather under-represented group will make access easier and enrich the way in which the deaf community is represented. There are around 60 videotapes that they will be working on, the challenge is that of course ASL is a visual language which does not have a direct translation into the spoken language. Each poet has their own unique style when it comes to expression.


The NTID hosts many national conferences on the subject of ASL literature, which are attended by members of the deaf community, students, interpreters and members of the general public. It is through these conferences that the poet Allen Ginsberg met ASL poet Patrick Graybill who translated Ginsberg’s Hydrogen Jukebox” into ASL and they realised how well Graybill’s translation captured the imagery of the poem.


Rochester has one of the highest per capita deaf populations in the country and was at the forefront of the US ASL poetry movement, and this project has been planned to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the NTID.

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