How old are you?
I don’t generally keep track of poets’ birthdays. My prejudice is to read more prose than poetry — although I do love poetry. But once I clamber up into a poem, it’s quite enough for me to spend time there; I’m not particularly good at taking down the author’s ID-card particulars.
Nonetheless, when Muhannad Salhi of the US Library of Congress sent out a call for names of “young and rising Arab poets (ages 35 and under),” I responded that, sure, I’d send some names. And then the dizzying question of who is under or over 35.
Obviously Qatari poet Maryam Al-Subaiey is young enough. Bahrain’s Laala Kashef Alghata is young. You can see their photographs here. See? Very young!
Oh, and yeah, I get that — on the other side of the spectrum — Adonis is overaged for this project.
But are Palestinian poets Tamim al-Barghouti (born 1977, apparently, so sufficiently young) and Najwan Darwish? (1978, yep!)
Is Egyptian Ahmad Yamani, one of my favorite “young and rising” poets, sufficiently young? (1970. No.) Iraqi Bassim al-Ansar? (1970 again, so no.) Libyan blogger-poet Ghazi Gheblawi (1975, too old). Lebanese poet Nazen Elsayed (1976.) Youssef Rakha? (1976.) Emad Fouad? (1974.) Yasser Abdel Latif? (Woops, 1969.) Khulood al-Mu’alla? (She won a “young poets award” in 2008, but is she still young-ish in 2012? I don’t know.)
Perhaps the problem is that many of these poets I see as “young-ish” were born around the same time as me. (Cough.)
Egyptian poet Rana al-Tonsi! She was born in 1981.
So, I’m old and tired and turn the question over to you. Who are some bright young Arab poets?
Tamim Barghouti, (Palestinian and Egyptian)
Mahmoud Abu Hashhash (Palestine)
Abdul Raheem Shaikh (Palestine)
‘Ali Mahmud Khudayr (Iraq)
‘Umar al-Jaffal (Iraq)
Mu’ayyad al-Khaffaji (Iraq)
Zahirah al-‘Alawi (Bahrain)
‘Id al-Khumaysi (Saudi Arabia)
Samar Diyab (Lebanon)
Maryam Al-Subaiey (Qatar)
Laala Kashef Alghata (Bahrain)
Najwan Darwish (Palestine)
Rana al-Tonsi (Egypt)
Hanin Omar (Algeria)
Mouna Ouafik (Morocco)
Mona Kareem (Kuwait)