Scenes from the Tripoli International Poetry Fest

Photo with permission, Nafissa Assed.

Iowa-based poet and translator Christopher Merrill has been tweeting from the first annual Tripoli International Poetry Festival, going on now in the Libyan capital.

The festival, which opened April 28 across from the iconic Arch of Marcus Aurelius in Tripoli’s old city, is Libya’s first major post-revolution literary event.

Libya Herald reporter Nafissa Assed added, “Besides, the festival started with a fantastic opening that delighted the whole audience, in which a traditional Libyan band played Malouf music.”

Assed posted a video of the music on her Facebook group, “Fissa’s Free Libyan Voice.”

Photo with permission, Nafissa Assed.

The festival, which arranged for poets from around the world to read and discuss poetry, seems to have been beautifully organized. Assed reported that, on the opening night, “Every seat had a booklet with events of three-day festival and with a biography of every participating poet. The organising committee also gave every member of the audience its new magazine Arkno about poets and poetry.”

Merrill has tweeted:

Nujoom Al-Ghanem from the UAE: “Poetry is a new form of action, a new sound, a new look.”

Libyan-American poet Khaled Mattawa at the opening ceremony. Photo with permission, Nafissa Assed.

Tunisian poet Abdulwahab Al-Mulawah at the Tripoli International Poetry Festival: “Writing is a betrayal of reading.”

Libyan poet Suad Salem: “In my poems I was always boarding the boat with the illegal migrants to sail away from here.”

‏ @CLMerrill
Algerian poet Habib Tengour: “If exile does not lead to knowledge, then there will be no poetry.”

Poet Matthew Sweeney: “To be original you must be true to yourself, to everything you believe, and it either comes out fresh or it doesn’t.”

“Inhale the fragrance of freedom in poetry,” said Hawa Al-Gamoudi at the Tripoli International Poetry Featival–the first in Free Libya.

The festival ends today.


Nafissa Assed’s photoset on Facebook.

Assed’s report for the Libya Herald.

And, just because it’s such a lovely tweet:

Ghazi GheblawiGiuma Bukleb came back from #Libya excited and elated about the country he said “the country is good and improving, all will be fine”