Friday Links: Naomi Shahib Nye’s Poetic Mentors, Bloggers in Saudi Must Register? More

I have never done a link list, but there’s just too much to write about today.


Fadwa Touqan

The U.S. State Department has issued a press release about Naomi Shihab Nye, her career, and her writing advice.  I find it a bit strange, although perhaps it’s the sort of thing the State Department does all the time. (Among other, less savory tasks.) It’s fairly general advice (write regularly, don’t be shy), but then Nye talks about two poets she has greatly admired: American Emily Dickinson and Palestinian Fadwa Touqan.

Surely we can all find some Dickinson online fairly easily. There isn’t as much Touqan, although Words Without Borders has posted one of the last poems she wrote before she died in 2003, “Longing Inspired by the Law of Gravity.” It begins:

Time’s out and I’m home alone with the shadow I cast
Gone is the law of the universe, scattered by frivolous fate
Nothing to hold down my things
Nothing to weigh them to the floor
My possessions have flown, they belong to others
My chair, my cupboard, the revolving stool


Speaking of Palestinian-American poets and WWB, Nathalie Handal has a new blog series on the literary site, titled “The City and the Writer.”

Her first profile is on Dutch-Palestinian poet Ramsey Nasr, poet laureate of the Netherlands, on the city of Antwerp.


Yet more Palestine: I must write about this in more detail, but Read Kutub is book clubbing about Ghassan Kanafani’s Men in the Sun (رجال في الشمس), next October 4. ArabLit and Read Kutub both urge you to beg, borrow, or buy the book and participate in the discussion online.

More about Kanafani and his writing from Read Kutub. Then go on! Get the book.


In Saudi Arabia, Eman Al Nafjan reports that the country’s “National Day” was dampened by an announcement that bloggers will have to register with the government. Details are still hazy.

For updates, follow the Twitter hashtag #Haza3.


The National follows up on the Kuwait Book Fair story today with “Kuwait under fire for banning books at book fair.” My favorite quote from from Sadi Awad, editor at Dar el Shorouk: “I think they banned them on the basis of their titles because they didn’t ask for example copies to read.”

The Kuwait Times also weighs in with a piece on the affair from staff writer Hussain Al-Qatari, titled “Of sense and censorship.”

According to one young man interviewed: “The bad censorship system here bans titles that are hyped by the media, but if you go to the local bookstores you’ll find lots of cheap, erotic novels available for sale. There is no logic to the local censor.”

And Kuwaiti blogger Faisal Khajah: “If you look at what is best-selling in Kuwait, you will find that they are either books that talk about trivial issues, like for example the psychological effects of gemstones. Or they are reproductions of books that we have quite a lot of, like the Prophet’s(Peace Be Upon Him) life or stories about the early Islamic era. Even if there are members of the public who have an interest in reading, they cannot find good reading material that opens horizons. The local bookstores only offer shallow material.”


Dr. Abdel-Monem Said makes it a little embarrassing to link to anything in Al Ahram, so I will just very quickly draw your attention to Nehad Selaiha’s piece about a theatrical homage to two great poets: “In the valley of the jinn.”


And, on the topic of Egyptian theater,” Al Masry Al Youm writes in “Cause for alarm: Fire safety at Egyptian theaters” that there’s reason to fear another disaster like what happened in Beni Suef or the National Theater. (Thank you, Farouk Hosni.) Theaters are taking precautions, but is it enough? (Will a manual firefighting system do any good if there’s a crush of people panicking and trying to leave the theater?)


Hmm. I’m not sure I saved myself any time there.