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Part of: World Poets’ Tour 2008 Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, Gaarriye and the poems of Kajal Ahmad, Farzaneh Khojandi and Noshi Gillani

The Round, The Dukes Theatre
Lancaster

Lancaster LitFest generously allocated a whole Saturday afternoon to our readings, which took place in the intimate space of The Round at Duke's Theatre.

First off was the poetry of Noshi Gillani and Farzaneh Khojandi. Sadly, Noshi hadn't been able to join us for the tour, but we were very fortunate that her poems were read in Urdu by the leading Pakistani novelist, Kamila Shamsie. Farzaneh, too, couldn't be with us: she'd had to return to Tajikistan after her British Library reading to be with her children. However, her poems were beautifully read in Tajik (Farsi) by the translator, Yama Yari. Farzaneh's translator, the poet Jo Shapcott, read Noshi's and Farzaneh's delicate translations into English with great sensitivity.

After the interval, we turned to the poetry of Kajal Ahmad - another poet who unfortunately couldn't be with us. Her vivid, poignant poems were read in Kurdish by her translator, the poet Choman Hardi, while Sarah Maguire read Kajal's English translations.

And then Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac 'Gaarriye' took to the stage with his translator, Bill Herbert. Gaarriye, as usual, gave a bracing, brilliant reading, equally matched by Bill's rhythmical control and precise delivery.

The final event of a very moving day featuring poetry in six languages, was a reading by our wonderful Sudanese poet, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi. Saddiq's beautiful voice makes full use of the musical richness of his exceptional poetry. Sarah Maguire, the PTC director, read her translations of Saddiq's poems in English alongside him.

The audience for all three events were wonderfully attentive and we all felt grateful for their warm and enthusiastic appreciation which created a successful finale to the long journey of our second World Poets' Tour.

And then, that was it (for everyone apart from Gaarriye and Bill). The poets and translators met for a final valedictory meal (raw meat served on volcanic rock heated to 400'C: don't ask), accompanied by our stalwart tour manager, Julia Bird (without whom none of this would have been possible) and the fabulous PTC Team of Charles Beckett and Travis Elborough, whose helpfulness, wit and good humour made the tour not only bearable but truly memorable.

We all look forward to the next time.