Hull Literature Festival 2001 8th - 18th November
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International Poetry and Music at the Hull Screen
ARKH presents:
A literary and musical celebration
Hull Central Library
Sunday 11th November

Oh dear. This is a difficult one to write. Any criticism of the event runs the risk of seeming mean and unworthy because the spirit that lay behind it was and is laudable. Any attempt to bring together and celebrate different cultures that are co-existing under difficult circumstances has to be positive. This is particularly true in a city like Hull which has so often been regarded as parochial. If anything has the power to reconcile differences then surely it's the Arts. And it was Remembrance Day too.

But if any fusing did take place at this event it was after I left. Unfortunately I was only able to be there for the first half and during that time it didn't. A late start didn't help and there were technical problems but, no matter, these things happen. What I found difficult was not being able to read the translation of the poem Peace by Pir Gohara which was read by Zakir Pir because the house lights were down - particularly when later I found how beautiful the translation was;

"...I yearn for the thorns to be pulled from the skirts of Asia."

Similarly, I wondered how much sense Peter Didsbury's poetry, with his tweedy deadpan delivery, made to those not speaking much English? I thought the minute's silence was clumsily done, coming as it did after a welcome from the organiser. Why not have it after one of the particularly poignant pieces played on the fiddle? Could we not have been given some background about some of the participants?

But just when I was despairing the whole thing exploded into life with a musical set dominated by the playing of an instrument which was somewhere between a mandolin and a sitar. ( Unfortunately, I didn't catch the name of the instrument because of the poor sound quality) There were whoops and responses from a large section of the audience to whom the songs were obviously familiar; there was dancing, clapping and an exuberance which the auditorium found difficult to contain. This was magic and just the kick start that the occasion needed. We need more of these events but they need better orchestrating and would perhaps benefit from a different kind of venue.

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