Blogs have slowly been going up from the Hay Festival Beirut, which was held this July 4-6 and boasted more than 50 authors, journalists, artists, bloggers and thinkers. It opened with what must’ve been a wonderful discussion at the packed Beirut Art Centre on urban space in post- war Beirut. Zeina Abirached, Mazen Kerbaj and Nadine Touma talked about the role of graphic novels in shaping Lebanon’s recent history. A number of festival participants have blogged up their experiences:

The most recent post was Najwan Darwish’s “The Nightmares Bus to Sabra and Shatila,” a poem read at the Storytelling Slam event, (trans. Marilyn Hacker and Antoine Jockey). It begins:

I saw them stuff my aunts into plastic sacks
Their hot blood pooled in the corners of the bags
(But I have no aunts)
I knew they had killed Natasha, my three-year-old daughter
(But I have no daughter)
I was told they raped my wife, then dragged her body down the stairs and left it lying in the street.
(But I am not married.)
Those are certainly my glasses that were crushed under their boots
(But I don’t wear glasses) Keep reading 

Oscar Guardiola-Rivera’s “What the hell, Miguel tallks about “militant literature”:

“This literature not only aspires to describe reality, or to remain critical about it by unveiling its lies and contradictions, but also, to compose veritable and rigorous counter-narratives that may inspire oneself and others to change it.”

Jon Gower in “Border Lines,” tells how he was affected by the visit to Shatila camp: “We leave the camp, visitors who are able to go home, starkly reminded of that simple word’s profoundest resonance.”

“Hay Festival Beirut in the Shatila Camp Youth Centre”: See the photos

Fadi Shayya writes on Checkpoints of memory in a post- war city“.

More writers on Hay Beirut:

Joumana Medlej, charmingly, on Lebanese anxiety about visitors: “Will they see through the clichés? Will they like it? But of course they will like it! Unless something happens…” Also: “I was told Hay is just opening up to graphic literature, but with the previous day featuring Zeina Abi Rached and Mazen Kerbaj, a substantial portion of the entire Lebanese comic scene was represented: quite a start!”

John Kampfner asks: “What better place to discuss questions of identity than Beirut?”

More notes from the fest:

The Telegraph: Reporter Benedict Brogan’s festival “notebook”

Hibr: Hay Festival Beirut – Turning war into words 

Now Lebanon: Hay Festival Beirut – Imagine the World 

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