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VCUQatar Hosts Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry Book Launch

March 26, 2012
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Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar is hosting a book launch event on 28 and 29 March, 2012 to celebrate the publication of Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry.

The book launch event will feature 14 prominent poets from the Arabian Gulf, as well as translators and publishers, for two days of poetry readings and panel discussions. The event starts at 4:00 PM on the 28th and 29th with a panel discussion followed by a break during which the audience will have the opportunity to interact with the poets and other participants. The break will be followed by poetry readings and book signings. Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry, in hardcover and softcover, is available for sale at the VCUQatar Bookstore.

Assistant Professor Patty Paine and Adjunct Professor, Jeff Lodge, formerly of VCUQatar and now of VCU Richmond and Samia Touati, translator and researcher at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (formerly adjunct professor at VCUQatar), edited Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry. The anthology, published by Garnet Publishing & Ithaca Press, invites readers into the rich and vibrant world of the Arabian Gulf, while making available the important literary work being undertaken by the poets of this region. The anthology presents a diverse and exciting collection of poems by poets from Qatar, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, and features an introduction by the renowned U.S. poet, essayist and editor David Wojahn. The anthology represents a wide range of poets from Laala Kashef Al-Ghata, a nineteen-year-old poet from Bahrain, to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai. Honoring the poets and their work was important to the editors, and toward that end they assembled a team of accomplished translators that includes Khaled Mattawa, Joseph T. Zeidan, Issa J. Boullata, Nay Hannawi, and many others.

Students in a VCUQatar literature classes first identified the need for a comprehensive collection of Arabian Gulf poetry, and the creation of the anthology was supported in part by a Qatar Foundation Undergraduate Research Experience Program (UREP) grant. UREP seeks to promote “Learning by Doing” and “Hands-On” mentorship activities as effective methods for undergraduate education. The editors are grateful to the Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF) and Qatar Foundation for helping make it possible to give students the opportunity to gain valuable experience in translation and publication. VCUQatar students Fatima Mostafawi, Hend Mubarek Aleidan, Sara Marwan Al Qatami and Aisha Khalid Al Naama made invaluable contributions to the creation of the anthology. The editors are also grateful to VCUQatar Dean Allyson Vanstone for her generous support of the project. Four VCUQatar students, Nawar Al-Mutlaq, Aisha Al-Naama, Al Hussein Wanas, and Ameera Makki also designed the cover of the anthology. The graphic design students became involved as part of a class (Print II), that was conducted as a collaborative workshop taught by Muneera Spence, chair of the Graphic Design Department, and Law Alsobrook, assistant professor of Graphic Design.

Professors Lodge and Paine, originally from the US, were initially worried that the poets might be skeptical of their efforts to create a poetry anthology predominantly in translation, however they were overwhelmed by the generosity of Gulf poets. Professor Paine, author of the poetry collections The Sounding Machine, Feral and Elegy & Collapse, and founding editor of Diode Poetry Journal, says, “In retrospect, we shouldn’t have been surprised at all. The poets’ reception to the idea only echoed the grace with which the Qatari students and their families, and the Qatari people as a whole, greeted us upon our arrival in Doha several years ago.” The editors believe that the poets recognized the importance of creating an anthology to be read by people both in the Middle East and in the West, and they are delighted that the public will have an opportunity to hear a variety of the poems from the anthology in the upcoming book launch event.

The book launch event to celebrate the publication of Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary Arabian Gulf Poetry will be held at the atrium at VCUQatar on 28 and 29 March, 2012and starts at 4:00 pm. The event is open to the public.

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