The Opening Night of the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature had the audience enjoy the company of authors and poets of international acclaim — Imtiaz Dharker, John Agard, Yang Lian, Daljit Nagra, Abdul Al Adir and British TV and radio presenter Sir Terry Wogan.
Considered as one of the greatest broadcasters of all time, Wogan has been a regular guest to more than eight million people's homes in Europe through his radio programmes spanning more than five decades. But the witty and humble broadcaster made little of this accomplishment.
Speaking to Gulf News, Wogan emphasised the importance of communication regardless of the number of people involved. "You're never conscious about it when you're doing it. Radio is not an audience thing. You have to remember that you're just communicating with one person or two people; it's a dialogue," Wogan said.
Wogan added that radio is different from communicating in a theatrical sense like the way he was speaking to the audience at the Festival, whose setup made the talk more intimate and personal.
In conversation with Bernard Creed, Wogan took the festival goers to a trip down memory lane, through the highlights of his more than 50 years in broadcasting. As expected, Wogan cracked jokes, mostly Irish, in between the conversation and never failed to make the audience laugh.
"I'm here to see Terry Wogan because I grew up with him in England and he was very well-known and was always on the radio. I just wanna hear more of the man, of his humour," British expatriate Beverly Humphries told Gulf News.
The love of language was also highlighted through poetry. Prize-winning poet, playwright and children's writer John Agard commended the Festival organisers for giving himself and the people the chance to meet with Arabic poets and authors.
"It's a learning experience, for you get to meet writers from an Arabic source that you might not see in normal life, shall we say. From that point of view, apart from the actual events, the human connection is crucial. So I hope the festival grows from strength to strength," Agard told Gulf News.
Agard, who read his poem Old World, New World at the Opening Night, emphasised the importance of reading among the youth who aspire to become writers themselves.
"As the Festival is stressing, reading is vital. You couldn't hope to be a writer without reading. Books breed books; poems breed poems," he said.
Imtiaz Dharker, one of India's most distinguished poets, read a poem about a lost tiffin box in Bombay from her book Leaving Fingerprints. Leading contemporary Chinese poet Yang Lian read Why I am here? a question that has haunted him, he said, while in exile. Daljit Nagra, on the other hand, read Sing Songh a romantic poem about an Indian shop owner who recently got married, from his acclaimed book titled Tippoo Sultan's Incredible White-Man-Eating Tiger Toy-Machine!!!'
The debate between wine and water, a poem by prize-winning poet, playwright and children's writer John Agard made its world debut on the Opening Night.