Since the uprising began in March 2011, Syrian writers and artists have been creating work like never before, becoming their own publishers on the internet and forming anonymous artists’ collectives. Culture has become a critical line of defence against tyranny. Syria Speaks is a celebration of a people determined to reclaim their dignity, freedom and self-expression. Join Syrian artists and writers at events across the UK for readings and discussions on cultural resistance in the country. The line-up will include award-winning Damascus-based novelist Khaled Khalifa, cinematographer and visual artist Khalil Younes, writer and filmmaker Zaher Omareen, and authors Malu Halasa and Robin Yassin-Kassab.
These events will mark the publication of Syria Speaks, a unique anthology of uprising literature, art and culture, showcasing the work of over fifty artists and writers who are challenging the culture of violence in Syria. Their literature, poems and songs, cartoons, political posters and photographs document and interpret the momentous changes that have shifted the frame of reality so drastically in Syria. Moving and inspiring, Syria Speaks is testament to the courage, creativity and imagination of the Syrian people. These events will be a window onto these creative endeavours during this time of turmoil.
These events are presented by Reel Festivals in partnership with Saqi Books, English PEN, British Council, LIFT Festival, Prince Claus Fund, CKU and the Arab British Centre. This project is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.
LONDON – Wednesday 11 June | 7pm | £4 (with music from the Raast Collective)
Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 6LA
Full details and to book tickets: http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/syria-speaks-art-and-culture-from-the-frontline/
BRISTOL – Thursday 12 June | 6pm | £4
Festival of Ideas at Foyles Bookshop, 6 Quakers Friars, Cabot Circus, Bristol BS1 3BU
Full details and to book tickets: http://www.ideasfestival.co.uk/2014/events/syria-speaks/
OXFORD – Friday 13 June | 6.30pm | £5/£4
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH
Full details and to book tickets: http://www.oxfordplayhouse.com/ticketsoxford/#search=syria
LIVERPOOL – Saturday 14 June | 5pm | Free Event
Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, The Bluecoat, School Lane, Liverpool L1 3BX
Full details and to book tickets: http://www.arabartsfestival.com/event-detail.php?id=467#.U3NAti-_Knc
BRADFORD – Sunday 15 June | 4pm | Free Event
FUSE Art Space, 5-7 Rawson Place, Bradford BD1 3QQ
Full details and to book tickets: www.wearefuse.co
DURHAM – Monday 16 June | 6pm | Free Event (with Fadia Faqir)
School of Government and International Affairs, Al-Qasimi Building, University of Durham, Elvet Hill Road, Durham DH1 3TU
Full details and to book tickets: https://www.dur.ac.uk/sgia/?eventno=20127
The visiting authors will also take part in workshops with English PEN at schools, refugee community centres and a prison.
Artists and Writers taking part
Khaled Khalifa is an internationally acclaimed Syrian novelist and screenwriter. His 2006 novel, ‘In Praise of Hatred’, attracted worldwide attention. Banned in Syria, the novel was a finalist for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and published in the UK by Haus Publishing in 2012.
Robin Yassin-Kassab is the author of ‘The Road from Damascus’ (2008). He co-edits the quarterly magazine ‘Critical Muslim’ and writes regularly for the British and Middle Eastern press.
Khalil Younes is a freelance cinematographer, illustrator and video artist. Born and raised in Damascus, he has won many awards for his work. His ongoing series, ‘Revolution 2011’, is widely available on the internet.
Malu Halasa is an editor, writer and curator. Her books include ‘Creating Spaces of Freedom: Culture in Defiance’ (2002); and (as co-editor) ‘Transit Beirut’ (2004) and ‘Transit Tehran’ (2008).
Zaher Omareen is a Syrian writer who has worked on independent cultural initiatives in Syria and Europe. He is a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths College and is completing a collection of short stories drawn from the 1982 Hama massacre.