When Poetry Breathes: An Evening of Poems and Music at Poets House

Poetry in Saudi Arabia is rooted in the traditions of the pre-Islamic tribes that roamed the Arabian Peninsula and passed down their oral histories from one generation to the next. To this day, poetry remains a vital part of Saudi culture and is celebrated through popular poetry festivals and in regional televised poetry competitions where Saudi poets excel. Drawing from this rich tradition is Abdulatif Yousef, a renowned Saudi-born poet known for dazzling audiences across the Gulf with his multimedia-rich poetry readings. Yousef’s performances are accompanied by the sounds of live, traditional oud music and visually enhanced with Arabic calligraphy, drawn on stage by an artist. His passionate performances are rooted in Yousef’s belief in poetry’s allure and adaptability to all ages and cultures
Yousef will present an evening of poetry and music in New York at Poets House where he will be accompanied by esteemed Yemeni oudist Ahmed Alshaiba. His poetry will first be recited in Arabic and then in English in order to share with American audiences the cadences and inflections of Arabic poetry, as well as the translated meaning. After the performance, Yousef will elaborate on the inspiration for his poetry and offer an insider’s perspective into Saudi Arabia’s contemporary poetry scene.
The performance will take place from 6:00pm to 7:00pm, with a post-event reception from 7:00pm to 8:00pm.
Abdulatif Yousef is an award-winning poet from Saudi Arabia. He has published two collections of poetry in Arabic: Neither the Land is My Mother, Nor the Tribe is My Father and Rawwi and is a founding member of the Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature. Yousefs books were bestsellers at the Riyadh Book Fair in 2016 and he was former second place recipient of the prestigious Diwaan Al Arab Competition poetry competition, organized by the Abdulaziz Al Babtain Cultural Foundation. Trained as an engineer in university, Yousef now pursues his poetry full-time. He currently is the writer and editor at the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia where his most recent project is writing, producing, and hosting an in-house operetta. Additionally, Yousef regularly addresses literature clubs across the Middle East and routinely participates in poetry nights and festivals in Saudi Arabia. He frequently travels across the region reciting his poetry for a following that expands beyond Saudi Arabia to Egypt, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates, among other countries.
Ahmed Alshaiba is on a mission to help the world appreciate one of the oldest instruments ever conceived. Alshaiba dazzles listeners with surprising and innovative covers of the most western and popular of musicians. Alshaiba is a self-taught musician who plays entirely by ear. After playing on Woman’s National Day in 2009, his fame grew quickly, performing before audiences that included Hillary Clinton and the President of Turkey as well as the President of Yemen. His first album will have all the original music of Alshaiba, impressively showcasing his musical mastery of the oud from East to West.
Jessica Damouni, actress, is a New York based actor, writer and producer born and raised in Perth, Western Australia. She is a member of the sketch comedy group ToS Comedy, whose work has been featured by FoD, Mashable, Chicago Sketch Fest, Hell Yes Fest and Brown University Comedy Conference. She is a member of Primitive Grace Theatre Company. Recent Theatre Credits: Fringe of Humanity (Paul Calderon, Dir.), Quotidian. Recent TV/FILM: ILYBIL (LMN), Red Mosquito (No2Mauro Productions).
This event is made possible through Poets House's Literary Partners Program.