A poet who is well versed in Mid-East arts

A POET living in Ely will head to Iran to take part in a multi-media arts exhibition. Tony Bowland, 51, was an English and drama teacher at City of Ely Community College for 10 years. He wrote to the British Council expressing an interest in going to Iran

A POET living in Ely will head to Iran to take part in a multi-media arts exhibition.

Tony Bowland, 51, was an English and drama teacher at City of Ely Community College for 10 years.

He wrote to the British Council expressing an interest in going to Iran to share some of his poetry.

Mr Bowland said: "I've always been fascinated by Persian culture and it's very influential in the work I do.


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"I wanted to go to Iran to try to contribute something socially and culturally instead of just being a tourist.

"Luckily, my timing was just right because the British Government is investing a lot of money into arts in the Middle East at the moment.

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"It is seen as a great way of building bridges with all the political problems going on."

Mr Bowland was invited to take part in the exhibition in the Iranian capital, Tehran, and was put in touch with Iranian artist and exhibition organiser Saeed Moyari.

Mr Bowland said: "We had a fascinating meeting in London. We spoke through a translator and found we were both inspired by the same things.

"We are both heavily influenced by Shakespeare and a Persian poet from the 13th century called Rumi."

The exhibition was due to take place in June but has been postponed because of funding problems and is expected to be held in September.

Mr Bowland will go to Iran as a professional poet and receive a wage as well as expenses.

He said: "My invitation to Iran is actually 10 years old.

"I'd just quit teaching and met some wonderful Iranian people while travelling in Turkey. We actually met in the city where Rumi was buried and I found them to be among the most liberal-minded and pleasant people I have ever met.

"They invited me to go to Iran then and I will do my best to track them down.

"It all just shows that despite the political problems between Britain and Iran, ordinary people from the countries often get along fine and the stereotypical images that people have just amount to generalised racism.

"I may get a hostile reception from some people when I get there but I've been through too much in my life to worry about fear."

- Mr Bowland will be reading some of his poems and talking about the work he is doing at an informal poetry evening at Ely Library tonight (Thursday). The event, from 6-8pm, is free and people are welcome to go in and out as they choose.

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