Sharjah: Prominent Emirati authors and literary gurus have called on for the establishment of creative writing training institutions that will “enhance the skills of aspiring writers in creating contents that connect with the readers and enhance critical thinking.”
The recommendation was made during a panel discussion marking Emirati Writer’s Day at the 12th Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF).
The participants during the discussion titled, ‘Emirati Authors: Reality and Aspiration’ were Saleha Ghabish, secretary general of Emirates Writers Union (EWU); Emirati poet Abdullah Al Hadiya; Dr. Ali Abdulqader Al Hammadi, director general of the Arabic Language Protection Association; Fathiya Al Nimr, novelist; Aisha Abdullah, author; and Ali Al Abdan, critic and researcher.
UAE writers who helped enriched the cultural landscape of the region were also honoured during the Emirati Writer’s Day.
Augmented reality workshop
Meanwhile, young creators were thrilled to see how technology turned their artworks into moving images during the augmented reality (AR) workshop.
Similar to holographic images and the popular game Pokemon Go, the AR workshop showed visitors characters drawn will transform into 2D images and move, literally, from the surface of the paper to digital space with the use of a gadget.
“We make the character they draw come to life,” said workshop presenter, Mahmud Kobtan, who is a certified lead trainer at a UAE-based accredited coding platform for children. He also guided the young participants how they can make more characters and animals appear on a screen.
“Aimed at enhancing creativity, the workshop taught children how to think out of the box by exposing them to a new technological concept. When they realise a technology like this exists, they can imagine more of it and can perhaps also come up with the next big idea just like the Pokemon Go game,” added Noor Oueidat, who assisted Kobtan during the workshop.
Write, draw, repeat
American author and illustrator Kevin Sherry thrilled the young visitors to an imaginative world of animal characters, real-life experiences, histrionic storytelling, and the inspiring tale of how his first picture book, I’m The Biggest Thing In The Ocean, came about.
Describing his love of animals from a very young age, Sherry said he was passionate about comics as a kid, and was smitten by Quentin Blake’s “cute and crazy drawings” in Roald Dahl’s stories. “
When his gift for creating mystical and magical creatures drew the attention of a publisher, Sherry, a former screen-printer, set about creating his first book. The author showed the young children his rough sketches and stories for subsequent books that were repeatedly turned down by the publisher until after several attempts at redrawing and rewriting, the initial idea took a new form and shape. Then, they became best-selling works.
“Never give up,” Sherry advised his young audience. “You may have to do it over and over again but remember that your work just keeps getting better with every repeat effort,” he underlined.