(A Bird is Not a Stone) Contemporary Palestinian Poetry Reading

By Marcelle Mansour
“A Bird is Not a Stone” was a wonderful literary cultural evening of Contemporary Palestinian poetry reading in five languages, held on the 20th of July 2015, at Bush Music Hut, Addison Road Community Centre, in Marrickville Sydney. The event was organised and coordinated by Jennifer Killen, from Friends of Hebron.
 “A Bird is Not a Stone”, is an exquisite book of poems, an anthology of contemporary Palestinian poetry (edited by Henry Bell and Sarah Irving), and transcreated by 25 of Scotland’s most acclaimed poets and writers into five languages. Those writers including Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead, James Robertson, Jackie Kay, William Letford, Aonghas MacNeacail, DM Black, Tom Pow, Ron Butlin, Christine De Luca and John Glenday.

The poems were read in Arabic, English, Gaelic, Scots and Shetlandic. Rosanna Barber, CEO Addison Road Community Centre welcomed the audience to the event, and Jennifer Killen performed the wonderful MC. A brief Introduction was made by Sarah Irving, the book editor.

The collection of the selected poems was written by the contemporary Palestinian poets included: Majid Abu Ghoush, Abdullah Abu Bakr, Samih Mohsen, Samih Farag, Zuhair Abu Shaib, Maya Abu al-Hayyat, Yousef Abu Loz, Yousef al-Mahmoud and Uthman Hussein. These poems in general are very expressive and have strong feelings of sadness, telling the tragic stories of the Palestinians and depicting their sufferings and horrific experiences under oppression and brutal occupation.

The poetry reading in (Arabic) was performed by Marcelle Mansour (the writer of this journalistic report), Hilal Asmar, Sarah Shaweesh, Nahed Odeh, Sanaa Ghabar Hawraa Kash, Sameh Faraj, Omar Ghannoum.  (English) performed by Trish Berry, Lindy Nolan, Holly Quin, Nadia Zeaiter. (Gaelic): by Ruaraidh MacAonghais. (Scots) by Carol Thomas. The program also included an audio from Scotland with Abla Oudeh and Harry Giles performing “haudin the kenmark o ‘hairs’”by Faisal Qurqati in Scots and Arabic p 179.

Refreshments, food and drinks were served. The event was concluded by auctioning the last copy of the “A Bird is Not a Stone” book. The audience were generous and the proceeds donated to Union Aid Abroad - APHEDA- to support education projects in Hebron, Palestine.

The literary event was enjoyable, interesting and very successful indeed.
The poetry readers were great performers and it was interesting to listen to various languages. Thank you to all the participants and the attendees on behalf of Palestinians. A warm thankyou goes to the poet/auditor of the anthology Sara Irving (who was visiting Sydney for the event) and in particular to the magnificent organiser / coordinator Jennifer Killen, from Friends of Hebron, and not to forget the SBS Arabic Radio Journalist, Saleh Saqqaf who attended and professionally coved the event and all the Australian Arabic Media of prints and online – in particular Al-ghorba.

This fantastic combined work has proved the poetry’s ability to transcend borders and cultures and languages in order to celebrate international cultural solidarity and shared humanity.

 1-From left Hassan Fakhridin, Issa Shaweesh, Marcelle Mansour Saleh Saqqaf and Sarah Irving
2- Marcelle Mansour performer of contemporary Palestinian poetry reading
3- Sara Irving reading of her book A Bird is not a Stone
4-Jennifer Killen Coordinater of Friends of Hebron and MC
5-Lindy Nolan poetry reading performer



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