In this episode of the Boundless Book Club from the Emirates Literature Foundation, you’ll find Ahlam, Andrea and Annabelle talking about poetry – when they turn to it, page vs performance, and what happens when they’re given the tough task of choosing just one poem to share with each other.
Poems, Poets and Collections in this episode:
The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyam
Ahlam’s collection of poems from the 11th Century polymath Omar Khayyam have a history as fascinating as the poems themselves, from Edward Fitzgerald’s translation to the history in her own secondhand copy. Ahlam reads two of his poems and illustrates that Centuries on, we can find comfort in the fact that genius and inventor of the solar calendar Khayyam, still tussled with the same big questions we ask in 2020.
Dorothy Parker – all the poems, all the time.
“Three be the things I shall never attain: Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.” – this is the Dorothy Parker quote that Andrea kicks us off with, before taking us on a magical mystery tour of this legend’s style, the brevity of her wit and humour, the feminists she disappointed back in the day, and what she thinks Dorothy would make of an office cat being named after her. No specific collection is recommended, but we’re pretty sure Andrea wants you to read ALL OF THEM.
Tracy K. Smith via Poetry Foundation / her collection ‘Life on Mars’
An entire website of poetry (Poetry Foundation) is about as close as Annabelle gets to committing to a poetry collection – it’s a great way to explore poems grouped by random themes. She usually gravitates towards quiet moments expanded into thoughtful poems like Billy Collins’ ‘Aimless Love’ or Pablo Neruda’s ‘Ode to a Tomato’, but she’s chosen a poem about the beginning of The Universe itself by US Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith.
The episode wraps up with a look at whether we’d read each other’s recommendations and Annabelle has an epiphany about why she likes poems that focus on tomatoes or the sound of the Big Bang.
Ahlam Bolooki is the Festival Director for the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, the largest celebration of the written and spoken word in the Arab World. Ahlam finds it difficult to choose a favourite genre as it’s always changing and she’s still in the midst of discovering her literary self. She’s catching up on all the gems she missed as a child such as The Little Prince and The Giving Tree, but has also developed a new appetite for Crime Fiction so who knows what’s next?
Andrea Gissdal is the Head of Communications and Marketing for the Emirates Literature Foundation. From a voracious and indiscriminate reader as a child, to a part time bookseller as a student, as an adult she has become a literary omnivore but with a preference for fiction. She also dabbles in creative writing, and has a penchant for Scrabble.
Annabelle Corton is part of the team that puts together the programme of events for the EmiratesLitFest each year. She runs the Festival Book Club and has a background in guesting and presenting on talk radio shows about various literary topics. She likes words like ‘equinox’ and ‘vespa’, and loves a good pun. She’ll read anything in reach, but has a fondness for witty tussles of good vs. evil on page and screen, especially vampire fiction where a great deal is at stake. Get it? Stake? ….She’s not sorry.