(Syria) is a Palestinian-Syrian oud player, composer, bandleader and music professor. At the first refugee centre he landed in while seeking asylum, he distinguished himself as gifted musician. Since then, he has performed at the Concertgebouw and been heard on the radio. He lives in The Hague, where he founded The Hague Orchestra for Peace, in which musicians from various countries play music and new compositions with the aim of creating bonds. They see music as the perfect means of attaining peace, because people from differing cultures can easily reach one another with it. Shanati wants to expand his message with his Foundation Amer Music for Peace. He studied at the music institute in Homs, Syria, and at The Hague's conservatory. Together with Stefka (Stephanie Ruijsenaars) he created the poetic musical performance Eerst was er Thuis (First there Was Home), in which four musicians seek a lost home.(2017)
Archive available for: Amer Shanati
In spring 2017 the joint poetry collection Me Here You There by Palestinian-Syrian poet Ghayath Almadhoun and the former Poet of the Fatherland Anne Vegter was published. For Writers Unlimited, they have collaborated with two exceptional musical talents: the Hague-Syrian-Palestinian oud-player and music professor Amer Shanati and singer-songwriter Stefka.
Vegter wrote the following about the creation of Me Here You There: "I first heard Ghayath Almadhoun during an interview with his translator Djûke Poppinga. He said that he fled Syria before the civil war broke out. He asked for asylum in Sweden and wrote the Poem 'I Cannot Be Present' in Stockholm, which articulates his discomfort at the distance between himself and the war in his native country.
As someone born and living in a safe country, my situation is of course much different. The world is burning and I refuse to look the other way. It's easy to do so with a roof over my head. My own discomfort led me to write poetry about war. My war is not his war. Ghayath and I decided to collaborate on a volume of poetry: his voice, my voice, my poems, his poems."
Rage is wafting around Europe. Rage in many forms and voices, but perhaps also from a common source. Led by author and cultural historian David Van Reybrouck, writers from various European cities delineate and interpret this rage from their own environments and perspectives.
Some Europeans think that our continent is denying its origins and heading towards cultural suicide by opening itself to the culture of strangers. Others believe that Europe is mired in colonial reflexes and prejudices, and falls short in terms of welcoming new citizens. Yet others see only a Europe of interference and technocracy, bereft of passion, imagination and democratic vitality.
Multitalented author and playwright Van Reybrouck wrote high-profile books such as Congo: A history, and essays such as "A Plea for Populism" and "Against Elections". Fatma Aydemir's debut novel Ellbogen (Elbow), about escalating violence in the U-Bahn, recently divided critics and readers in Germany. Grazyna Plebanek, originally from Warsaw, lived in Stockholm for a few years and in Brussels since 2005, where she works as a journalist and writer of short stories and novels. Until 1989, art historian, poet and essayist Magda Carneci published under a pseudonym in Bucharest; these days, she is, among others, Editor of Revista ARTA.
As counterpoints, Rodaan Al Galidi recites some of his poems, Gerda Dendooven creates illustrations and Stefka and Amer Shanati play their music.
How do we deal with borders in an era of globalization? Writers Unlimited presents a conversation about the necessity and the impossibility of national borders in an ever-shrinking world.
In his new, contemporary love story Exit West, the successful Pakistani writer Mohsin Hamid describes life in a time of global migration. In the book, nominated for the 2017 Man Booker Prize, a young couple flees violence in their country via secret doors that lead to Greece and other places.
Paul Scheffer, author and professor of European Studies at the universities of Tilburg and Amsterdam, published the esssay De vrijheid van de grens (The border's freedom, 2016) in which he states that an open society can only exist by a certain spatial demarcation.
Ghayath Almadhoun read from his work for this event. The poet, a member of a young and engaged generation of Arabic writers, has a Palestinian-Syrian background and has lived in Sweden since 2008. He was a journalist in Damascus and set up a house of poetry there.
The musical contribution to this program was by The Hague oud-player, composer and music teacher Amer Shanati; visual artist and illustrator Gerda Dendooven made live drawings.