At this year’s Nottingham Festival of Literature, set for November 8-13, poet and novelist Omar Hazek — who served more than a year in prison for contravening Egypt’s anti-protest laws — will be the “Virtual Writer in Residence”:
At a September 8 launch event, participants watched a video of Omar Hazek, whose poem “Kite” was read in translation by Matthew Welton. Everyone also got a tiny kite, some of which were photographed flying over Nottingham.
These small paper kites are particular moving as Hazek wrote letters from prison in which he talked about folding origami.
Hazek is the “virtual” writer in residence because, although he was released from his two-year sentence by a presidential pardon last September, the poet and novelist has been banned from traveling.
This came to light after his release, when Hazek was awarded the PEN International and Oxfam Novib Award for Freedom of Expression.
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