For her Masters in Visual Anthropology Johanne Ihle made the very impressive film ‘Men of Words’ about cassette-poetry in Yemen as a vehicle for social change. I highly recommend it. To see the film online, just contact Johanne here: firstname.lastname@example.org. And see Janneke Adema’s post (from which I quote) for some more informative background about the movie:
Packed in a burqa and carrying a camera (so I have been told), Ihle traveled into the vast mountains of Southern Yemen to the area of Yafi’ to record an ancient Yemenite tradition: a gathering of men, of poets, discussing and reflecting on current issues, politics, economics, social conditions and the local news and going ones via poetry. Clinging strongly to ancient oral traditions, at the same time the global media and communication streams have not gone unnoticed, even here in the localized context of Southern Yemen. Remarkable though – though not so remarkable as you first might think, as shall be explained later on – is that, in the light of increasing digitization and online media participation, the preferred means of recording and spreading these poetic discourses and reflections for Yemenite poets is the audio cassette. The specific media attributes of the cassette tape makes them into a strong moral weapon and communication and distribution device in a context of political and religious suppression and censorship.