‘Prince of Poets’ Competition Soliciting for This Year’s Competition

The Khaleej Times call for POP poets asks:*

ARE YOU a poet? Do you write your verses in classical Arabic? Then this one is for you!

From 2009.
From 2009.

Thus the UAE’s Poetry Academy & Committee for Festivals and Cultural and Heritage Programs begins accepting submissions for its fifth edition of the Prince of Poets. The show, based on a British format but popularized by its American version (“American Idol”), takes poetry as its object instead of song.

The popular show has not been without controversy. The show took off in 2007, thanks to a poem by young Palestinian-Egyptian poet Tamim al-Barghouti, son of novelist Radwa Ashour and poet-memoirist Mourid Barghouti. Al-Barghouti’s “Al-Quds,” or “In Jerusalem,” became a major sensation, the judges seemed to love him, and he came in…last place among the finalists. The other poet who seemed to be doing particularly well, the Sudanese poet Rawda Al-Hajj, came in one step above him, in fourth. And the prize went to Emirati poet  Abdulkareem Maatouk.

Again in 2010, controversial Saudi poet Hissa Hilal reached the finals, and became a different sort of global sensation, but the show’s winner is chosen through a combination of the judge’s evaluations and audience votes via SMS and in-theater voting, and many suggested Hilal probably did not have organized campaign of SMS votes to win. She did, however, come in third, and win $816,816 — not a bad day’s take for a poet.

In 2011, it was Egyptian popular poet Hesham al-Gakh’s poetry about Tahrir that grabbed headlines (translations here), although again, al-Gakh did not win, and the prize went to a Yemeni scholar

Still, it’s a pretty fun platform for your work — as long as you write either amudi or taf’ila (no prose poems!) — and have a somewhat popularist style. After all, while al-Barghouti didn’t win, “Al-Quds” became a ringtone, whereas that other guy’s poetry…who was that other guy? Oh, and contestants must be between 18 and 45.

All entries must be typed and sent by email as an attachment to: pop@tcaabudhabi.ae or printed out and faxed to: 00971 2 643 3323. Nope, no handwritten poems will be accepted.

Each candidate poet should send either one amudi poem (of at least 20 lines, no more than 30), or one taf’ila poem (no more than two stanzas, each a max of 15 lines).

Along with the poems, candidates must send a CV (specifying date of birth, favorite activities (?) and literary achievements), in addition to their contact information.

The deadline for submissions is March 3, 2013.


ME Online: Committee for Festivals, and Cultural and Heritage Programs holds first meeting, gears up for upcoming events 

Well, their original call said “than this one is for you,” but I couldn’t leave it as such. Read the whole news release here.

Also a “Prince of Poets”:

An article in the Egyptian Gazette on the Ahmed Shawqi museum.