A tough verse for battling poets

Filed on May 1, 2013

The battle of the rhyming word will commence when the 20 finalists of the fifth Prince of Poets competition are unveiled.

Names and origins will be kept secret until the show begins tonight at the Al Raha Beach Theatre in Abu Dhabi, but Poetry Academy director Sultan Al Amimi revealed the finalists come from 13 Arab and non-Arab countries.

“In its 5th edition, the Prince of Poets competition has seen requests for participation hailing from Asian, African and several European countries. There were poems by Arab poets who hold non-Arab nationalities, and poems by non-Arab poets who lived in Arab countries and managed to master and excel at standard poetry composition.

Sultan Al Amimi (left) and other officials announce the details of the competition in Abu Dhabi. — Supplied photo

“The number of the countries, which were represented, reached 35, including Eritrea, Sweden, Niger, US, Britain, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria, in addition to participations from all Arab countries,” he said.

When the preselection began a few months ago, thousands sent in their attempt of verses in classical Arabic, and 300 made it through to the next round.

Throughout April, the Scientific Committee of the competition examined the 300 poems and chose the best 50. Finally, the competition’s jury, which includes Egyptian literary critic Dr Salah Fadl, professor of Algerian literature and literary critic Dr Abdelmalek Mortadh and UAE’s professor of literary criticism at Emirates University, writer and literary critic Dr Ali bin Tamim, decided on the last 20 standing. During the show, which is broadcast live by Abu Dhabi TV and Shar Al Million, participants will all appear in the first five episodes, at the rate of four poets per episode. At the end of this first stage, only 15 poets will move forward.

The process will be repeated for a total of nine episodes, with the judging done by both a panel of experts and the viewing public.

As in the previous competition, the five winners will be awarded with cash as well as laurels — Dh1,000,000 for the top winner, Dh500,000, Dh350,000, Dh200,000 and Dh100,000 for the following four.

“In the first year of the competition, we had thousands of contributions, but only 50 per cent of them qualified for the competition. This situation has improved year after year and now the ratio of poems that didn’t meet the standards was only five to 10 per cent,” pointed out Al Amimi.

“The winning poets also go on to write and publish poetry, so they are not just in it for the money,” he told Khaleej Times.

Silvia Radan

I'm a senior journalist with 22 years experience in all forms of mass media. Originally from Romania, I lived and work in Bosnia, Uzbekistan, England and, for the past 10 years, in UAE. I specialize in art, culture, traditions, heritage, but also environment and the hospitality industry. I'm passionate about jazz and world music, cinema, mythology and offroading - I'm a marshal with one of UAE's offroading clubs!

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