Palestinian Poetry

Bluecoat Arts Centre, Saturday 10th July 2004

Reviewed by Adam Ford

As part of the Arabic Weekender at the Bluecoat Arts Centre, a group performed poetry and a play inspired by the struggle of Palestinians to survive and defeat the Israeli occupation.

Acclaimed local writer Morag Reid read the poetry of Nahida Yasin, who has been exiled from her homeland since 1967. Her moving works spoke of roots torn and time frozen since she was separated from her family.

Four young writers from Manchester – Ola, Ruba, Miriam and Hibah - then read their own compositions. Of the quartet, only Miriam has visited the birthplace of her ancestors, but they all spoke passionately of the anguish suffered by their people, and their determination to overcome all obstacles and win peace.

Finally, three players performed ‘A Palestinian Odyssey’ – a short play by Julian Bond. The piece portrayed the ghosts of Palestinian children (played by Rachel Ann Flinn and Helen Griffiths) flying over the newly-built ‘security’ wall to be with their loved ones, before Bond’s ghost of a Jewish holocaust victim drew controversial but convincing parallels between the Israeli occupation and the suffering of Jews under Hitler’s Nazi regime.

All of the pieces were very moving, and every performer received warm applause for their sensitive portrayals of the situation in Palestine. Theoretically, the Palestinians seem to have little chance against the might of an Israeli military machine that is backed by US and UK aid. However, if the Palestinians and their supporters use the defiant spirit reflected in all these pieces then they must surely prevail eventually.