Words Words Words a MARSM organised event featuring Palestinian artists billed as a celebration of “the power of words and meaning,” took place this Friday at Richmix. The performers were two spoken word artists, Farah Chamma and Dana Dajani, and musician Jowan Safadi, making his UK debut. Rafeef Ziadah, herself a spoken-word artist, was going to host but unfortunately could not make it.
Farah Chamma, accompanied by Maruan Betawi on the oud and Phelan Burgoyne on drums, took us through poems on wide ranging list of subjects, from the apology to the Arabic language that I previously wrote about here, to a piece about the pretensions of studying performance art, to one about the anxieties of everyday life, to a more political poem on Palestine. This act was by far the one with the most audience participation, and there was some back and forth about which song to perform next before it was settled to end with singing Sheikh Imam Idtha Chams Gher’et (“If the sun sank”).
Next was Dana Dajani who performed several theatrical spoken word pieces, including one on migration where she played the statue of liberty, and another where she played a “hagga” lamenting the situation in Palestine, using one of those Arabs-speaking-English accents (which detracted somewhat from the performance for me). The most striking of the pieces was her reading from Rachel Corrie’s writing, accompanied by Leo Komazawa who played a bewildering number of instruments and sang a Japanese song in between the readings.
Jowan Safadi’s performances including several favourites, including Meen Badu Yrkabna (“Who Will Ride Us?”), “the kuffar song” which the audience called out for, and Fi Hudthn El Ihtilal (“In the Arms of the Occupation“). He also sang a few songs in English which I had not heard before, including one called Arab String that sounded like a translation of one of his previous songs, before ending with songs from the forthcoming album, which you can hear more about here.