Talal Salem Al Sabri poetry interview

Acclaimed Emirati poet explains his poetry and writing


Talal Salem Al Sabri is an acclaimed Emirati poet and member of the Emirates Writers’ Union, where he managed the Poetry Club. He has also served as director of the House of Poetry in Sharjah. He discovered his love of poetry during his second year at university after being invited by the poet Abdallah Al Hadiyya to speak on his radio programme, Hams Al Khawater (The Mind’s Whispers). Al Sabri’s collections include Hatta Taoud (Until You Come Back) and Kharir ad Daow (Trickles of Light).

What advice would you give to aspiring poets and writers in the UAE?

Before you begin to write, you need to live the moment, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. It allows you to go into an imaginative state and feel the language.

How difficult is it to get published?
It’s not difficult since there are lots of publishers in the region, but no literary agents for them to go through. They can approach writers directly. However, it’s not easy for a book published in Arabic to become a worldwide bestseller because the numbers of Arabic books sold are small in comparison to the numbers of Western books sold.

What steps should someone take to get recognised as a poet?
Work hard on yourself as a writer. Increase your knowledge and read a lot to add value to yourself. From there, you can write and try to participate in various events such as those held by the Emirates Writer’s Union and The Poetry House. There are lots of cultural entities to become connected to. However, it is hard work for writers to get noticed here, as publishers don’t market authors properly. It’s simpler for them to get noticed and to grow a fan base through social media.

Is it common for Arabic writers to get attention internationally?
I write in Arabic, which applies to a lot of people here, and we don’t have a big chance to interact with Western writers. So the festival is great for us to get exposure and to get to know more authors and agents.

When: Tuesday March 3 to Saturday 7
Where: InterContinental Dubai Festival City
Price: Depends on the workshop or event.
Info & tickets: www.emirateslitfest.com

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