Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Palestine Festival of Literature

I have been following, wide-eyed, the progress of the Palestine Festival of Literature team as they have been blogging, Twit-picking and Tweeting their way across Palestine since the 21st March.

This brave, perhaps even foolhardy little band of authors and poets, including British comedian and intrepid maker of popular travelogues Michael Palin, has been travelling around Palestine, taking the Festival to Palestinians because the Palestinians aren't free enough to travel to any one location by themselves.

The aim, as one of the participants puts it, is "To confront the culture of power with the power of culture," - the official mission is to bring writers and artists from around the world to Palestinian audiences, to initiate and organise cultural festivals and workshops with students.

It has been compelling viewing - for the relatively small audiences following the blogs, Twitter feeds and other social media channels the Festival team has used have been treated to the sight of the Festival team squeezing through checkpoints, having their first night event banned by the Israeli military, being shut out from the Dome of the Mosque and other delights.

It's sort of close to my heart - my nasty little book-writing habit led me to pen a book called Olives that I guess has heightened my awareness of and feeling of connection with the people of Palestine, although it's always been a constant element in my 20-odd years mooching around the Middle East.

Today is the last day of the festival with an event taking place at The National Theatre in Jerusalem from 7pm. And then the team of weary artists will leave. But it's nice to think they'll leave something behind them that will perhaps inspire people, to build a heightened sense of expression and to find a voice, a response that will both help them to make sense of the future and to help the world understand that there's another side to this terrible story.

You can look at the team's photos on Flickr, unless you're in the UAE in which case that's not allowed. However you are allowed to connect to the Author blog, including a mesmerising post by Palin, look at the YouTube page or connect via Twitter - it's not too late to do so. There's a story told there that I think deserves a wider audience.

I realised yesterday, looking at the team being hassled as they passed through yet another checkpoint, that I would dearly love to go to Palfest next year.

Let's see what the year brings...


who is said...

An A+ for aplomb and two a gold stars - one for the typograpgy in that poster and the other for reminding how I'm totally wasting my life.

who is said...

..and a D for my own bloody typos retarding things when I'm trying to sound all smart. :P

A good find....a good find.

Phillipa said...

I think you should be finishing and editing Olives....don't YOU

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