Surely most Anglo poets—well, until they think about it—are jealous of those Arab poets who are so fresh, alive, and relevant that they are jailed for their works. Indeed, although the era of Arabic poetry is over (ahem), newspapers in rebel-controlled Libyan cities are apparently full of poems.
Yesterday, Jadaliyya published a poem by dissident poet Muhammad Farhat al-Shaltami. Al-Shatami “was imprisoned more than once during the 1970s by the Qaddafi regime,” according to Jadaliyya’s culture editors, and was the author of “many poems originally composed in and about prison.”
From the poem “Indictment,” translated by the site’s culture editors:
You issue your verdict,
While morning still follows evening
And our mother, the great sun,
Dawns red despite your lowly informant.
Let me say this: Neither you nor I hold Time in our hand
As it passes by this huge world of ours.