Supported by alumni and friends: Festival of Arab Poetry

Throughout the year, generous donations from alumni and friends help to fund a diverse range of activities that support the student experience and benefit the Goldsmiths community. In a new series of blog posts, we will share a selection of projects that demonstrate the difference these projects make at the College.

English PEN is a global literary network that works to defend and promote freedom of expression, and to remove barriers to literature. The award-winning Goldsmiths branch supports freedom of expression on campus and throughout London.

As a student-led society, Goldsmiths PEN has campaigned for imprisoned writers, hosted an LGBTQ+ literature night, a women’s writing workshop and a series of poetry nights. With the support of alumni and friends, they were able to host ‘Hibr’, the UK’s first poetry festival of exclusively Arab poems and collections.


Hibr, which translates as ‘ink’, provided an opportunity to experience poetry not commonly on offer in the UK. Guest speakers included Dr Atef Alshaer, who explored poetry as a form of resistance, while Dr Sarah Irving and Dr Naomi Foyle, who are translators and editors of contemporary Palestinian poetry, discussed methods of translation that capture the original aesthetic of Arabic poetry.

For many of those who attended, it was their first experience of Arab poetry and gave an introduction to the literary tradition.

The festival is scheduled to return in 2019.

Alumni and friends also generously support students facing financial difficulties and the provision of bursaries, scholarships and prizes. For more information or to make a gift, please visit our website.