In their own words: a rare chance to hear modern Iraqi writers. Meet Sinan Antoon, Hussain Al-Mozany, Betool Khedairi, Gulala Nouri and Saadi Youssef at the McDonald Road Readings.
“I also liked to sit on our roof and watch as the pigeons kept by our neighbour’s son would take their usual flight in the afternoon Baghdad sky. At times, these birds would dodge, and compete with, the kites flown by kids.” This small detail from a 2003 essay by Sinan Antoon gives a glimpse of the great privilege awaiting the audience at Tuesday’s special event in McDonald Road library (19 May 5.30 pm).
There will be other vivid images of the real Iraq – Sinan Antoon writes powerfully about war, love and life in exile from his hometown. Here is an extract from Strings, in the 2003 collection A Prism: Wet with Wars
The sobbing of a man
as he clings to the thread
running from his fingers
towards a white kite
in the skies of his childhood
outside the cell
on his execution night
Sinan Antoon is one of five Iraqi writers, poets and film-makers who will be introduced by Ryan van Winkle at the readings event in McDonald Road Library on Tuesday 19 May between 5.30 pm and 8pm.
“I may read a poet’s work whose visa was sadly refused! really a shame…” writes Ryan, the city’s Reader in Residence, in an email promoting the event, which is just a small part of the festival of film, music and words, lasting from 14 May to 12 July. There will be many other unique opportunities to meet and listen to the extraordinary wealth of talent from a country most of us see only through the distorting images of news bulletins.
For details of films, talks, recitals and readings go to the Reel Iraq website.