Finally, a (Rough) Translation of One of the ‘Million’s Poet’ Finalists

The courageous and gifted Hissa Hilal, who has brushed off a death threat and is on her way to the “Million’s Poet” finals, has finally received a rough translation into English.

She’s the first female poet to reach the show’s final round.

I would love to see a poet’s rendering of her work. This is from Hassan Hassan at The National:

I have seen evil from the eyes of the subversive fatwas in a time when what is lawful is confused with what is not lawful;

When I unveil the truth, a monster appears from his hiding place; barbaric in thinking and action, angry and blind; wearing death as a dress and covering it with a belt [referring to suicide bombing];

He speaks from an official, powerful platform, terrorizing people and preying on everyone seeking peace; the voice of courage ran away and the truth is cornered and silent, when self-interest prevented one from speaking the truth.

Lest you think she toils on these verses for years, and then comes on television just to recite them, Middle East Online explains:

In the second part of the episode all poets had to improvise a short poem of six verses to match a poem by the competition’s first winner Mohammed Bin Futase Al Murri of Qatar. According to Sultan Al Amimi, a member of the jury, poets are required to improvise the poem in weight, rhyme and subject without using the poet’s name, nor reusing any of his metaphors.

After delivering their powerful poems, the panel announced the results: Hissa gained 47 points out of 50.

Hilal will compete against four others in the final. Please, if she wins, can we stop calling her “a Saudi housewife”?

More: Is Hissa Hilal’s Poetry Good (and by What Standards)?


  1. For true courage. . .one must always look to a woman. Your children are blessed to have you and the world will be a better place because of your bravery.

  2. my version:

    evil flares from the eyes
    of the treacherous fatwas
    in a time that can’t distinguish
    lawful from unlawful;

    i say my bit & a beast turns up
    barbaric in thought & act,
    angry, blind, donning
    death & wraps a belt around it

    he bellows froth
    from his pulpit of power
    striking fear in the crowd but singling out

    the voice of courage has faded
    its truth will not be heard
    when shutting up is the price you pay
    to remain standing


  3. Wow, i am really happy i have come accross this great resource for arabic poetry. Thank you!

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