Ali al-Muqri: ‘As for Writers, There′s Nothing They Can Do’

Just a week after Yemeni poet and journalist Nabil Subay was attacked — and shot in both legs — by unidentified gunmen, Qantara has posted an interview with Yemeni novelist Ali al-Muqri, in which he talks about what writers can “do” in the current situation:

1340-almuqri_1Subay, whose poetry has appeared in French translation, was reportedly heading out for lunch on the second day of 2016 when he was attacked by unidentified men and shot in both legs.

According to Open DemocracyWamidh Shaker, Subay’s wife, posted on her Facebook page: “You will not bring change, we will! What you did today to Nabil will not change him in any way. Remember, we are the ones who change things, not you!”

This defiance was not echoed by leading Yemeni novelist Ali al-Muqri, in an interview for QantaraWhen asked what “intelletuals” can do in Yemen’s current situation, he answered:

I′d make a distinction between intellectuals and writers. You can describe a lot of people as the intelligentsia, including members of the military, regime politicians and murderers. As for writers, there′s nothing they can do about the terrible situation in Yemen. They live under bombing and mortar fire, the same as everyone else, with the same shortage of basic necessities like water, food and electricity. You can′t expect anything more of them than to put up resistance against death and stay in the country, despite the adverse conditions.

Al-Muqri has several strong observations on writing and life in the interview, including one about how a writer can assess her, or his, own craftsmanship:

The greatest challenge is to write freely. And at the same time it′s the yardstick by which you measure your success, even if nobody else recognises it.