Afra Atiq was to have been Author of the Day at the London Book Fair today. BookBrunch caught up with her before the cancellation
Afra Atiq is an Emirati poet and spoken word artist, as well as a PhD candidate. Her work draws on the region's tradition of oral poetry, but with modern influences and subjects such as feminism, body image, bullying and loss.
What are you looking forward to in your Author of the Day role?
I look forward to sharing my artistic work, speaking about my PhD research and academic endeavours, representing the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its vibrant culture, and connecting with like-minded people who have gathered to share the love of literature. I look forward to learning as much as I can from other writers, publishers and editors.
How do you think the impact of performance poetry differs from the impact of written poetry?
The language of poetry really is universal. History has shown us that even the classics still resonate with people today. Poetry is timeless, so I would say that the impact of poetry is not necessarily different, because poetry has always had an effect. Though I do prefer the stage personally. Performance is unique in the sense that it allows the audience to be in the moment and experience the poem in the poet's voice.
You've spoken about the fact that you like to have issues and themes in your poetry. Is this something that you go out of your way to include, or do you find that the themes make themselves known during your writing process?
I'd say it goes both ways. I find that sometimes the poems lend themselves to themes and other times it is a conscious decision on my part to include those issues or themes. Often, when writing poetry, the place you end up is not the place you started out at or intended to go. This is one of the many reasons I love poetry, the way it sometimes has a mind and direction of its own.
Do you think an artist has a responsibility to give back to their community? How have you chosen to do so?
Yes. Definitely and without a doubt. For me, it is an incredible blessing and privilege to do what I do. It also a responsibility, and one which I do not take lightly. The life I lead keeps me extremely busy, but no matter what my circumstances are, I will always make time to give back to my community. I do this through school and university visits. I am also part of an extraordinary collective called Untitled Chapters, a community of Emirati women writers. Through Untitled Chapters I give back through mentorships and workshops. I think it is incredibly important to give back in whatever way you can, and it is an extraordinary blessing to be able to give back through a medium that you love as much as I love poetry.