iPlayer Radio What's New?
Image for Poetry Idol

Listen now 28 mins

Listen in pop-out player

Poetry Idol

Duration:
28 minutes
First broadcast:
Wednesday 27 August 2014

Poetry has always had an essential role to play in Arab literature, and the tradition is thriving in unexpected ways. Shahidha Bari travels to Abu Dhabi to join the audience of 'Million's Poet', a massive televised competition to find the best poet in the Middle East.

Every year this huge contest takes place under the spotlight of the television cameras in Abu Dhabi. Million's Poet is broadcast live across the Middle East and has a huge following, with judges and viewers both having the chance to vote for their favourite poet. There's plenty at stake, as the top prize is an eye-watering five million United Arab Emirate dirhams, a figure getting close to one million pounds.

So how did this TV contest get started, and why do people tune in to hear poets reading their work? It's not the sort of show that would be likely to take off in the West. Shahidha Bari talks to judges, competitors, and the audience to find out the secret of Million Poet's success.

Poetry, she finds, has a particular role in the Middle East as a valued artform in a changing world: an outlet for expression for anyone from the ruler to the doorman, all of whom are free to enter Million's Poet.

Picture: Presenter Shahidha Bari on the set of Million's Poet

Broadcasts

Featured in...

Podcasts

  1. Image for Documentaries

    Documentaries

    An indepth look at stories and issues from around the world. This podcast offers you the chance to…

  2. Image for World Service Music Documentaries

    World Service Music Documentaries

    All the World Service's music podcasts gathered into one place. New documentaries will be added…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss