Arab Poets Perform at San Francisco International Poetry Festival
Powell, Sara, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
THE SAN Francisco International Poetry Festival-Poet Laureate Jack Hirschman's contribution to the active San Francisco arts scene-took place from July 26-29 in various venues around the city. Dozens of poets from around the world participated, including many from the Arab world and Middle East.
The festival kicked off with a ceremony hosted by former poet laureate and famed publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti in (Jack) Kerouac Alley just outside Ferlinghetti's legendary City Lights bookstore. Jorge Molina opened the festival with traditional and contemporary indigenous chants and spoken word, and the Pete Yellin Quartet provided music.
The July 27 reading at the Palace of Fine Arts Theatre was hosted by another former poet laureate, Janice Mirkitani, who had spent part of her WWII childhood in a U.S. internment camp for Japanese citizens. Sabah M. Jasim of Iraq moved the audience as one of the performers.
The festival continued the next day with smaller readings at local public libraries and another major performance at the Palace of Fine Arts. Hosted by yet another of San Francisco's poet laureates, devorah major (who does not capitalize her name), the performers included PEN director Hanan Awwad of Palestine; Israel's Aharon Shabtai, the widower of author and activist Tanya Reinhart; Adonis Prize-winner Maram Al Masri of Syria; and host Hirschman. …