Projects

Erbil Literature Festival

Location
Erbil, Iraq
When:
27 - 29 January 2013
Description
For the second time ever the British Council will hold an international literature festival in Iraq, in partnership with various Iraqi institutions.

Building on the success of the first ever international literature festival in Iraq in 2011, the British Council is working with partner organisations in Iraq to organise the second Erbil Literature Festival in January 2013.

Events at the festival will be held in Arabic, Kurdish and English and will be chaired respectively by Dr Fadhil Thamer, Dr. Himdad Abdul-Qahhar and Dr. Rachel Holmes. Confirmed writers include Lucy Caldwell, George Szirtes, Adam Foulds, Hameed Al-Rubayee, Samarqand Al-Jabery, Omar Al-Sarai, Muhsin Mohammed, Gulanar Ali and Kakamam Botani.

For three days the festival will provide as many opportunities as possible for local audiences to experience contemporary literature from Iraq, Iraqi-Kurdistan and the UK, the festival will offer highly respected British writers a chance to further their knowledge and experience of the literary world in the Middle East, and it also provided a dynamic platform for local writers, poets and scholars to voice their work and engage with British literature.

Background

For three days in May 2011, the Festival was designed to provide as many opportunities as possible for local audiences to experience contemporary literature from Iraq, Iraqi-Kurdistan and the UK, and it did; audience numbers were far higher than expected, and the reading planned in the tea house turned into an open mic event where local poets stood up and read their work in front of men and women alike. The audience spilled out onto the street. The festival offered highly respected British writers a chance to further their knowledge and experience of the literary world in the Middle East, and it also provided a dynamic platform for local writers, poets and scholars to voice their work and engage with British literature.

The festival featured high-profile public readings and performances along with more informal discussions with local literary partners. There were more formal seminars and less formal educational outreach events in the local community, as well as at universities. With some huge and quite unprecedented audiences at these events the platform that was opened up for literature over the three days was quite astounding. The festival was initiated as a way to open up dialogue and promote the cultural relationship between Iraq and the UK, while answering the request of local organisations to reach new audiences within the region, and everyone involved was happy with the way it addressed both.

Partners included: Kurdistan Ministry of Culture & Youth KRG, Salahaddin University, National Library of Iraq, Writers Union of Kurdistan, Iraqi Writers Union.

Authors attended: Ahmed Sidawi, Inaam Kachachi, Dr Nazand Begikhani, Tahmima Anam, Robin Yassin-Khassab, Bee Rowlatt, Sherko Bekas, Soheil Najm, Sarkawt Rasul, Dr Fadhil Thamer (Iraqi Arabic Chair), Dr Himdad Abdulqahhar (Kurdish Chair) and Dr Rachel Holmes (UK Chair).

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