Members of the Dhahran Poetry Group’s annual event organizing team pose with guest poets after a night of English and Urdu poetry.

“Poetry is a thing of such beauty and such power. The play of words, the imagery, and the wit make us happier, sadder, more alive, and more inspired. All of that is achieved simply by the careful arrangement of words. The mysterious power of words holds us spellbound and glued to our seats for hours on end.” Those were the thoughts of Adil Mustafa, president of the Dhahran Poetry Group (DPG), in his remarks as he opened the DPG’s 7th Annual Poetry Event. In attendance that evening were close to 250 members of the Saudi Aramco community, mostly engineers and scientists, who indeed sat glued to their seats for over five hours, listening to local and international poets and to live instrumental music, which provided a captivating counterpoint to the poetry. The evening was divided into English and Urdu sections, with the English section hosted by Shahid Nawaz and Zareen Sultan. Two company executives attended, including Ibraheem Assa’adan, executive director of Exploration, a longtime supporter of DPG. He spoke about the power of poetry and its ability to make an impact across lands and languages and even across time. Also attending was Warren Wilder, vice president of Chemicals, who spoke about his love of poetry and dismissed the often asserted notion that engineers and poets are like oil and water and expressed his belief that poetry and engineering are closely aligned. The speeches were followed by original poetry read by award-winning poet Siena Hansen, who is associated with the U.S. Consulate in Dhahran. The Urdu sections of the evening were skillfully hosted by Syed Nadeem, Asif Khan and Naveeda Abidi. The first Urdu poets were members of the Aramco community, Asif Muzaffar (a geologist by day), Lozai Tanveer, and Irum Iqbal. The highlights of the evening were three international poets who came to Dhahran specifically for the event: Dr. Nawaz Deobandi from India, Farhat Abbas Shah from Pakistan, and Dr. Nausha Asrar from Houston. The distinguished Urdu poets are also accomplished performers and skilled entertainers. Asrar passionately rendered his poem, “Khaali Botal” (The Empty Bottle), a moving commentary on the human condition and the need for introspection and soul searching to better understand why things are the way they are. Shah recited not only his Urdu poetry but also his poems in the regional languages, Seraiki and Punjabi. His famous poem “Shaam ke Baad” (After Dark), in which he contrasts the forces of light and dark, was praised by all. He often brought the audience to their feet. Deobandi’s recitation of a poem on mothers and unconditional love was particularly moving, and stirred the audience with his touching articulation of feelings that many may have felt but for which we could never quite find the right words, “What oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d.” The evening was carefully put together by a team of more than 50 enthusiastic volunteers who took care of travel arrangements, food, stage decorations, music, ticket sales, and other tasks. The Dhahran Poetry Group is planning to build on the success of this event and organize separate poetry gatherings in English, Arabic and Urdu. Those wishing to participate should contact Mustafa at [email protected].