Word on the street is a new poetry festival will launch in Abu Dhabi. Featuring free writing workshops, lectures and special guest performances by American National Poetry Slam champions G Yamazawa and Patricia Smith, the Abu Dhabi International Poetry Festival takes place at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi on Al Reem Island.

The event will pay homage to traditional Arabic Nabati poetry as well as to more modern, hip hop styles of spoken word.

“As a person who has been performing poetry professionally for ten years in America, I had no idea how big of a deal poetry was in this region until I moved here,” says festival co-organiser Dorian ‘Paul D’ Rogers.

The festival’s organisers describe their one-day event as a “multi-sensory and multi-purpose affair”. The 12-hour event will include a children’s poetry reading, timed poetry slam competition, a live calligraphy station and musical performances.

“The response has been amazing so far. Poetry lovers have reached out to volunteer just to be a part of something that is long overdue in this region,” adds Rogers.


Kane Smego
A spoken word and hip hop artist (and National Poetry Slam finalist) from Carolina, USA, he created the Poetic Portraits Of A Revolution in 2011. He travelled to Egypt and Tunisia to collect stories of the popular revolutions and turned them into spoken word poems that aired on the National Public Radio affiliate WUNC.

Abu Dhabi International Poetry Festival

G Yamazawa
The youngest Japanese-American poet to become a National Poetry Slam Champion (at the age of 24). He has been featured at the Sundance Film Festival and has shared a stage with Danny Glover and US Vice President Joe Biden.

Farah Chamma
The UAE-born Palestinian poet writes poetry in English, Arabic and French. Her Arabic poem How Must I Believe? has been viewed more than a whopping 200,000 times on YouTube.

Patricia Smith
An award-wining poet, teacher and author, Smith is a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam and has had her work appear in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories.

March 19
Paris-Sorbonne University, Al Reem Island, Abu Dhabi, 10am to 10pm, Dhs100, free before March 5. Taxi: Paris-Sorbonne on Reem Island, next to Gate Towers. abudhabipoetryfestival.com