Poetic Voices of the Muslim World: Traveling Exhibit

11/30/2015 10:00 AM

Poetic Voices of the Muslim World: Traveling Exhibit

Poetic Voices of the Muslim World:

Poetic Voices

Poetic Voices of the Muslim World at the Central Library

This fall, join us on a voyage of discovery to explore the rich tapestry of Muslim poetry through “Poetic Voices of the Muslim World,” a travelling exhibit accompanied by poetry readings and musical performances at the Central Library from September through November.   

Why poetry? In Muslim cultures, poetry is the most highly revered art form, with an ancient lineage. Poets have high status. Poetry is memorized and recited by ordinary people and ancient poems can be found in lyrics of modern hit songs or painted on trucks. Numerous games and traditions have arisen over the centuries involving spontaneous poetry invention. It has played a role in politics and has been used to prevent bloodshed.  

Visit the first floor of the Central Library for a display of lushly-illustrated, vibrant panels featuring arresting photography and calligraphic masterworks, as well as the work of poets ranging from traditional to contemporary and across the globe. Poetic traditions from four major language areas — Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu —introduce poetry from Asia, Africa and diaspora communities in Europe and the United States.  

The Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System has partnered with the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta to provide complementary programming each Tuesday at noon, and some Saturdays at noon. The programs are on topics such as Islamic art and calligraphy, mathematics, music, henna designs and children’s dance. Four special programs occur on Tuesdays at 5:30 p.m. between October 27 and November 17. There is also special children’s programming. Come join us, and experience a new culture through poetry!

Poetic Voices of the Muslim World is presented by Poets House and City Lore, in partnership with the American Library Association and the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System. Funded by the Bridging Cultures Program of the National Endowment for the Humanities:  Exploring the Human Endeavor. Additional support was provided by the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.  Local programming and support developed and provided by the Islamic Speakers Bureau of Atlanta. For more information, visit www.poeticvoicesofthemuslimworld.org

Wazir Khan Mosque 

“Wazir Khan Mosque in Reflection,”
painting by Samina Quraeshi–Courtesy of Samina Quraeshi


Dates: through November 2015


Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
10-8 10-8 10-8 10-8 10-6 10-6 2-6




Venue: AFPL Central Library, One Margaret Mitchell Square, Atlanta 30303.
free and open to the public.
Contact: 404.730.1896

Poetic Voices of the Muslim World: Pianos for Peace
Saturday, November 14. 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
International pianist and music composer Malek Jandali joins Ameer Muhammad in a musical event to explain the mission of Pianos for Peace and how it works to build peace through music, art, and education.

Poetic Voices of the Muslim World: Poetry Reading and Discussion
Tuesday November 17. 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Poet and author Kazim Ali presents readings of his poems, a view from the vantage point of a Muslim and an American.

Poetic Voices of the Muslim World: Children’s Story Time
Saturday, November 21. 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Jelena Naim will lead an interactive session for children under 10 that includes story time followed by crafts that are related to Muslim customs, observances and holidays. NOTE: Because materials will be provided, please RSVP to 404-730-1900 if you are planning to bring your children to attend.

I am the beggar of the world: landays from contemporary Afghanistan. An eye-opening collection of clandestine poems by Afghan Pashtun women. A landay, or folk couplet , is an ancient oral and anonymous form created by and for mostly illiterate people: the more than 20 million Pashtun women who span the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Brutal and spare, landays can be remixed like rap, and are powerful in that they make no attempts to be literary.

The hundred thousand fools of God: musical travels in Central Asia (and Queens, New York), by Theodore Levin. An ethnomusicologist, Levin recorded music through urban and rural Transoxania, uncovering the fate of traditions, beliefs, and social relationships in Muslim and Jewish Central Asian cultures during and after seventy years of Soviet rule. The book introduces urban musical genres such as maqam, mavrigi, suvara, and dastan, while in rural areas the focus is on the epic-reciter and the healer, both called baxshi, and on performers of a variety of folk genres.

Load poems like guns: women's poetry from Herat, Afghanistan, translatedby Farzana Marie. A collection, in English and Dari, of contemporary poetry along with biographical information about the poets. A long introduction places poems and poets in context for a Western audience with special focus on Nadia Anjuman, whose life, cut short, serves as a sobering example of the battles faced by a young female poet.

Majestic nights: love poems of Bengali women. Selected, edited and translated by Carolyne Wright and co-translators. This collection includes work from a range of Bengali women poets, both Indian and Bangladeshi, as well as those in the diaspora. The poems look at how Bengali women tell their truths of the heart and mind through the prism of their struggles for equality, opportunity, and recognition in a changing society.

Modern poetry of Pakistan, edited by Iftikhar Arif. Includes poems translated from seven major languages in Pakistan: Balochi, Kashmiri, Punjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, and Sindhi and Urdu. This collection reveals a society with ethnic, class and political differences, but also a literature unified by traditions both classical and modern.

Nets of awareness: Urdu poetry and its critics, by Frances W. Pritchett. The ghazal, one of the most beautiful and richest traditions of lyric poetry in Muslim culture for centuries, fell out of favor among modern Urdu critics in modern times. Pritchett unpeels the layers of 19th century colonialism to find the reasons.

On wings of diesel: trucks, identity and culture in Pakistan, by Jamal J. Elias. Vehicle decoration is practiced in many countries. In Pakistan, trucks are often decorated with verses of poetry, both sacred and profane.

The rebel's silhouette: selected poems, by Faiz Ahmed Faiz ; translated with a new introduction by Kashmiri poet Agha Shahid Ali. Considered the leading poet on the South Asian subcontinent, evening readings in Hindi/Urdu-speaking regions by Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) drew thousands of listeners. Faiz became an outspoken poet in opposition to the Pakistani government and was also a professor of English literature, a distinguished editor and a major figure in the Afro-Asian writer's movement.

Sanata: stillness, music by Kiran Ahluwalia. The latest CD from the radiant two-time Juno Award winner (Canada's Grammy), described as " a heady hybrid of Indian grooves, Saharan Blues and Western Jazz"

Seam, by Tarfia Faizullah. Daughter of immigrants and raised in West Texas, Faizullah’s blistering poems tell the stories of the 1971 Bangladesh genocide.

Where rivers and mountains sing: sound, music, and nomadism in Tuva and beyond. Whether Muslim, Buddhist, or of shamanist traditions, the music of Inner Asia keeps alive beloved stories, praise-songs, and epic tales as long as 30 times the length of Homer’s Iliad.

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