Following Million’s Poet, Let’s Have an Arabic Def Poetry Jam

While reading several of the Iraqi poets—well, two in particular—from the recently released Banipal 37: Iraqi Writers, I thought: These poems should be spoken aloud. Nay, they should be performed. So—since it’s the medium of our age—why not have them on a regular televised poetry jam?

Surely this sort of television has the potential to spur a love of words (although, yes, those words would be frightfully hard to control).

Anyhow, the first poem that insisted on being spoken was Bassim al-Ansar‘s “Damn,” translated by Ali Issa, which begins:

We can no longer see the horizon!
Let the rains pound, let them pound.
Our stories sing the praises of the desert!
Let the rains pound, let them pound.
All our houses have holes in them!
Let the rains pound, let them pound.
Our travels are attacked by ideas from the sky!
Let the rains pound, let them pound.

The second was the selections taken from Salah Hithani’s “The Water of Your Absence,” translated by Alison Blecker. It opens:

Those who went into the street
randomly shooting pedestrians with bullets from their old rifles,
who will rescue them?
Who will rescue the fire that raged three days until it finally
spread to reach the garden of the Geographical Institute?
Who will rescue the sea from drowning in its own water?
Who will rescue it from its fish and dragons?
Who will rescue the war?
Who will rescue the ladders from being climbed up
and from being climbed down as well?
Who will rescue the wound from the thread that mercilessly
sews it up?
Who will rescue the letter alif from its wearisome standing and
upright stature?

I would like to take more, but I think I’ve expended my fair use. Visit Kikah.Com for more possible poetry jam participants.