The desert is magical enough by itself. The dark sky dotted with bright stars, smooth grains of sand warm under bare feet, the cool night breeze tickling our senses. We were in a campsite lit entirely by lanterns, the moon, a gleaming pearl. The oud was playing - its mellifluous notes evoking a sense of something out of the Arabian Nights. Food was in abundance and drinks were overflowing. But we were intoxicated by the poetry.
If there was ever one...
... Whose love lay more infinite
Than grains of sand
That's when I fell in love with a new poem - Invisible Kisses - and found a new favourite, Ethiopian-British poet Lemn Sissay.
We were at Desert Stanzas - Poetry & Music Under the Stars, part of the sixth Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai in March this year. Apart from Sissay, there were Emirati poets Khalid Al-Budoor and Khulood al-Mu'alla, German slam poet Frank Klötgen, Mandarin poet Lan Yi and the UK's Andrew Motion. Not all of them were translated, but even when the words were foreign, we were captivated by the cadence of the poets' voices - the fall, the pause, the peak. Recognising the shape of a poem is instinct.
Read: How to spend a weekend in Dubai
There were some fantastic Middle Eastern writers (see box), there were bestselling writers - Joanne Harris (who wrote Chocolat - you've probably watched the film adaptation), Eoin Colfer (who man behind the 13-year-old criminal mastermind Artemis Fowl), our very own Amish (The Shiva Trilogy) and Brunch's favourite Pakistani writer Moni Mohsin (The Diary of a Social Butterfly). British journalist Christina Lamb (who co-wrote I Am Malala) was there - you may have read her interview here last month.
There was a literary lunch with celebrity chefs Greg and Lucy Malouf. And there was a Murder Mystery Dinner (actors from a local theatre group enacted a play, somebody dies and the audience plays detective) - something you must add to your bucket list!
From HT Brunch, May 11
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