Yemen’s Anti-drone Poetry Contest

A recent Time article by Tik Root (@TikRoot) looks at “Yemen’s New Ways of Protesting Drone Strikes: Graffiti and Poetry.” According to Root, a recent anti-drone poetry contest had as its prize $600 or “1% of the cost of a hellfire missile”:

Reaper drops first precision-guided bomb, protects ground forcesThe contest was sponsored by the British-based organization Reprieve (@ReprieveUK), which “assists prisoners facing the death penalty, and prisoners held beyond the rule of law in the ‘war on terror,’ whether in Guantánamo Bay or rendered to secret prisons elsewhere.”

Baraa Shiban, a Yemeni project coordinator with Reprieve told Time that: “We [have] tried to be a little bit more creative on ways [that] we can really combat the fact that drones are hovering over our cities and villages.”

According to Time:

A panel of Yemeni poets whittled the more than 30 submissions down to six finalists and a winner. Frontrunners gathered on a recent Tuesday afternoon to share their work. One by one, contestants read their poems aloud. Some delivered their verse – containing lines such as “From above, Death descends upon us,” “Drones are the friend of our enemy” and “Do you fight terrorism with terrorism?” – more fluently than others, but the small audience of mostly friends and fellow activists greeted all of the contestants with equally boisterous applause. The winner: Drones Without Rhyme, a catchy free verse poem with a familiar theme. The winning poet, Ayman Shahari, beamed as he walked on stage.

The project announcement on the “Reprieve” website says that, if they got enough poems, they would translate a selection into English and distribute them in the US and EU.

Books and drones were also a popular point of discussion yesterday, when Amazon announced they planned to deliver by drone.


Yemeni Poetry

Banipal 36: Literature in Yemen Today. Poetry available free online includes work by Yemeni authors Mohammad al-Qaood and Shawqi Shafiq.

Yemeni poet Sawsan al-Areeqe was one of this year’s International Writing Program participants. You can read several of her poems on the IWP website.

Tribal Poetry, the Beat of Yemen

Poetry and Drones

To be and not to have been: kill lists and poetry