‘Genius’ Egyptian Poet and Lyricist Mido Zoheir, 46

Acclaimed poet and lyricist Mido Zoheir died Sunday morning of a heart attack:

Zoheir was widely beloved, and readers crowded into the Cairo International Book Fair to get copies of his popular poetry collection, Ho’net Hawa (Air Syringe).

Born in October 1974, Zoheir was well-known for the poems Ho’net Hawa (Air Syringe), as well as his poem Azraq (Blue), which was also turned into a one-man show, and for his collaborations with musicians.

He wrote the lyrics for a number of albums, including Lekhfa, released in 2017. The album was the project of Maryam Saleh, Maurice Louca, and Tamer Abu Ghazaleh. Back in 2017, Maryam Saleh said of Mido Zoheir’s work:

Mido has this knack for articulating what we all feel with such wrenching simplicity, yet his choice of words makes the emotions you feel quite complex and multidimensional. He also has this dark comedy edge running through all of his texts. He is fascinating, quite talented. When you look closer into his texts, he uses everyday language, says things the way we would say them in casual conversations, yet he pens them as poetry, he’s a genius!

Tamer Abu Ghazaleh added: “For us, Mido is the best poet of his generation. With him, it’s such a spontaneous outpouring of poems, he doesn’t think about them or structure them, they just come to him, with abundance.”

And Maurice Louca:

Mido is of his time and place. I think what gives the album such an Egyptian sound is Mido’s work more than any other component in the music. His humor and the way he juxtaposes the words are so very Egyptian – take “te’ban ‘ala kol sellem, ‘aqrab fe kol sa’a (a snake on every ladder and a hand on every clock)” as an example – he embodies a certain state of being, and he’s not actually depressing. On the surface, you might think it’s about the dire reality and all, but somehow his texts don’t bring you down. I don’t know how he does that.

Track 5, “Music and Fear” (Mazzika w Khof), by Mido Zoheir, trans. Wi’am al-Tamami:

Also read: Poetry from Mido Zoheir, for ‘Lekhfa’