All events take place at the Main Library located in Midtown Detroit
Detroit Public Library - Main Library
5201 Woodward Avenue
Detroit, MI 48202
SATURDAY, MARCH 15, 2014 – 1:00 PM
Words of Praise: the Qasida with Dr. Michael Sells with Amir ElSaffar and Safaafir
The qasida is a long rhymed ode common to Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Urdu literature. It originated among Arab Bedouins as an oral poem in praise of the tribe or denigrating its enemies.
Michael Sells’ insightful talk reveals the remarkable richness of language and range of emotions evoked by Arabic Golden Age poets Imru al-Qays and al-Mutanabbi. Dr. Sells describes how the form continues to be used today in contexts as varied as televised political commentaries and village weddings. This lecture is followed by an Iraqi maqam performance by Amir El-Saffar and his ensemble Safaafir, who draw on forms like the qasid from the Arabic Golden Age.
SATURDAY, APRIL 12, 2014 – 1:00 PM
Islam and the Blues with Dr. Sylviane Diouf
Through images and recordings, award-winning historian Sylviane A. Diouf of the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture illustrates how the blues, which originated in the American South, may have evolved from the techniques of the recitation of the Qur’an and the call to prayer in West Africa. She plays early blues recordings side by side with African recordings of the call to prayer and invites audiences to catch the similarities.
WEDNESDAY, MAY 21, 2014 – 6:00 PM
Song of the Reed: Rumi with Dr. Jawid Mojadeddi and Amir Vahab
13th century Persian poet Rumi is now one of the most widely read poets in the United States. In this talk, scholar and translator Jawid Mojaddedi discusses the beauty of Rumi’s Masnavi: its folk tales, sacred history, entertaining stories and lessons, all written in rhyming couplets. This talk is followed by a performance of the poems set to music (in English and Persian) by distinguished composer and Persian classical performer Amir Vahab with his ensemble.
FRIDAY, MAY 30, 2014 – 6:00 PM
Syrian-American spoken word artist Omar Offendum, introduced by Dr. Matthew Jaber Stiffler
In collaboration with the Arab American National Museum
Born in Saudi Arabia, raised in Washington DC and living in Los Angeles, Offendum has been featured on several major news outlets (BBC / ABC News / Aljazeera / PBS), toured the world to promote his ground-breaking music, helped raise thousands of dollars for various humanitarian relief organizations and lectured at a prestigious academic institutions. Offendum also been involved in creating several critically-acclaimed songs about the popular democratic uprisings throughout the Middle East & North Africa.