By Fanny Ohier
The Italian Cultural Centre in Cairo is organising a series of workshops that aim to spread the art of poetry among young people in Egypt. The project is part of Kalam le-l-Shabab: Youth, Creativity and Poetry in Today’s Egypt, and is co-funded by the European Union and organised in collaboration with the Association of Egyptian Poets. The workshops will be held in Cairo, Alexandria, and Luxor.
Anyone who writes poetry and is between 16 and 25 years old can apply for Kalam le-l-Shabab, (Words of Youth) by sending a sample of their work to the Italian Cultural Centre before 4pm on Friday 31 May. Participation in the workshops is dependent on several preconditions, however; candidates must fall within the defined age group and not have entered any other contests, while the submitted poem must be in Arabic of no more than 20 verses, and not previously published. After the submission date closes a jury will select the best 30 candidates, who will then be invited to attend the workshops.
The project manager of the Italian Cultural Centre, Paolo Vanino, explained that “Kalam le-l-Shabab aims to give poetry a young approach” and give young poets a ”way to express their sensibility and a space to express their feelings.” During the workshops poets will have the opportunity to share and compare their own poems as well as exchange their views on famous poetry.
Besides the workshops, the final 30 participants will take part in the Kalam le-l-Shabab Festival in September and their poems will appear in a publication that will be produced in several languages at the conclusion of the workshops. During the festival, experienced European poets will share their experience of the art with the young Egyptian poets.
Next Wednesday 22 May the Kalam le-l-Shabab project will host a reading of Hassan Teleb’s poetry at the Theatre of the Italian Cultural Centre, after which the Egyptian poet and philosophy professor will comment on his poem This is Your Cross, Brother.
Other activities of the project include a training course in cultural management, set to take place in Alexandria and Luxor, that aims to give the participants “the tools to organise cultural events,” Vanino said.