First Person

Short Takes XV

15/10/03: Poetry and foreign relations Guests of the Egyptian embassy, we have converged for a bilingual recital of Arabic poetry plus commentary. Here are diplomats from Morocco to the Persian Gulf, immaculately groomed and lotioned, sleek as Brancusi installations with brown necks strangled by spotless collars. Here are local politicians dressed in lumpy dark suits as for a funeral parlour, searching the throng nervously for what reactions might be expected from them at this, of all things, a pan-cultural poetry recital. And here we are. the poets, populous as ever, our motley most heart-rending when it is clear we have…

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