Express Yourself: 100,000 Poets for Change Comes to Doha


Photo by Urooj Kamran Azmi

By Matt Connor

Photo by Urooj Kamran Azmi
Photo by Urooj Kamran Azmi


Amin Isaac always considered himself an artist when he was growing up. After attending a poetry slam night at his university in North Sudan, he realized he enjoyed the artistic expression the medium of poetry provided.

The slam night organizers in North Sudan were part of “100,000 Poets for Change,” an international nonprofit founded in 2011. The organization dedicates itself to encouraging free expression by bringing local artists together.

At another 100,000 Poets for Change event in North Sudan, Arwa Elsanosi, a Georgetown University-Qatar graduate was also inspired.

The two met up in Qatar and due to their mutual love for spoken word poetry, began planning a “100,000 Poets for Change” event in Doha, a first for the country.

The main event is scheduled to take place on Sept. 27 at the College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q).

“If Sudan can do this, a country with such basic resources, why hasn’t it happened in Qatar?” Isaac said.

On Sept. 13, the organization held auditions at the College of the North Atlantic Qatar (CNA-Q).

Approximately 20 people attended the auditions, hoping for their chance to perform later in the month.  The auditions varied in form. Spoken word in English. Arabic poetry. Electric guitar.

“You can express any change you want,” Arwa Elsanosi, an event coordinator, said. “In any way you want to affect change.”

Yet competition seemed to be the last thing on performers’ minds at the only auditions for the Sept. 27 showcase, where a 10-year-old girl recited a poem and a woman elaborated on menopause in colorful language. Performances eclipsed language barriers, gender issues, and age gaps, with some pieces focusing on domestic violence, others on the dichotomies of eastern and western culture.

According to Isaac, “100,000 Poets for Change” has held more than 700 events around the world in 2013. In Qatar, hopes are high for this year’s event to spark an annual tradition, in addition to expanding options for more artistic expression in Qatar.

“It’s the idea that this is a platform,” Isaac said. “People are bringing their own perceptions about different issues.”

“The children today were just wow,” Elsanosi said with regards to the auditions. “This is the start of a poetry society in Qatar.” 

100,000 poets


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