Starting Tuesday: NINITI International Literature Festival in Erbil, Iraq

Now in its third year, the Erbil International Literature Festival has been renamed NINITI, after a Sumerian healing goddess, to reflect 2014’s focus on women writers:

ninitiBoth Iraqi and non-Iraqi authors are traveling to the Kurdish city — the fourth largest in Iraq — to give readings and discuss politics and literature from April 22-24. Participating writers include Kapka Kassabova, Julia Copus, Ghareeb Iskander, Choman Hardi, and Rachel Holmes, and readings will be held in Arabic, Kurdish, and English.

Kurdish, Arabic, and English writing workshops — focused on storytelling and poetry — are also a key part of the festival.

As part of the pre-festival festivities, Reel Arts is hosting five days of poetry translation workshops, featuring established and emerging artists, promising to yield dozens of new translations and new work. On the final day of the festival, the poets and translators who worked together to craft translations in the Safeen mountains — Mariem Maythem Qasem Al-Attar, Ahmad Abdel Hussein, Ali Wajeeh, Zhwen Shalai, Nia Davies, Vicki Feaver, SJ Fowler and Kei Miller — will get together to read their work.

According to organizers: “This reading will reveal not only the original poetic intention of the authors but also the unique intimacy and empathy possible between poets with different cultures and traditions but surprisingly similar concerns.

Other events include talks on “Speaking Truth to Power,” “Present Day Penelopes: the Mad, Bad Girls of Myth and Legend,” and “Written on the Body.”

More on the festival:

The schedule and news release

Choman Hardi’s “The Penelopes of My Homeland,” a poem to pre-launch the festival

“Women in Kurdistan are Not Passive Victims”: An Interview with Choman Hardi

Poet Ryan Van Winkle is tweeting from the festival, as is Stephen J. Fowler.

Fowler’s “Day 1” diary from Erbil

Ryan Van Winkle on being Between Iraqi and Scottish Poetries: The Closest Thing to Magic One Could Hope to See

Ghareeb Iskander on Iraqi Poetries and the ‘Third Language’ of Translation