|Maya Abu al-Hayyat|
Liz Lochhead, Scottish maker, Christina De Luca and Maya Abu al-Hayyat, Palestinian poet gave a talk Edinburgh book festival 2014, on their book A Bird is not a Stone, which is in English, Arabic, Gaelic, Scots and Shetlandic.
Maya Abu al-Hayyat, who is from Palestine and only got her visa to come to the festival a few days before the event, is an engineer, novelist and poet. There was the shared joy for the writers to be sharing such a cross border event, exchanging ideas and appreciating our similarities. Lochhead enjoyment of Maya’s reading of her poems in Arabic was obvious.
After an introduction from Liz on how the project came about and of their trip to the camps and crowded place that is present day Bethlehem, we were given three very eloquent readings first in English by Lochhead, then in lyrical Shetlander from Christina followed by Maya’s emotive readings. It was interesting the different rhythms and feel of the readings and the depth and beauty of the Arabic voice.
With the Shetlander voice, Christina said she wished to get the right tone and earthiness.
The poems were chosen by the Palestinian poets and then translated by 29 of top Scottish poets( )
The book contains a foreword by Lochhead on their experiences. She spoke of the lack of water for several days and how everyone wanted to reassure them that they were not terrorists. She said, what else but poetry has the beauty and truth to try to cross boundaries. The last poem was about the many ways to smile.
A Bird Is Not A Stone is taken from George Wiley’s words of the birds that flew over the Berlin Wall. This event about a project begun in 2012 is very timely with all the dreadful killings of present day Gaza
Art and poetry voices may try to carry the silent voices across the world of the ordinary people’s lives and of the mothers who wish to watch their children grow up in a world that is not torn in two.
They thought a Scottish poem we might share would be A Man’s a Man For A That. A thoroughly enjoyable book festival event.