Translations of ‘Prince of Poets’ Competitor’s Poem for the Revolution: Tahrir Square by Hesham al-Gakh

Last week, Hesham al-Gakh skipped the "Prince of Poets" competition in order to join Egypt's new day.

Following Million’s Poet, Let’s Have an Arabic Def Poetry Jam

While reading several of the Iraqi poets---well, two in particular---from the recently released Banipal 37: Iraqi Writers, I thought: These poems should be spoken aloud. Nay, they should be performed. So---since it's the medium of our age---why not have them on a regular televised poetry jam? Surely this sort of television has the potential to … Continue reading Following Million’s Poet, Let’s Have an Arabic Def Poetry Jam

Hissa Hilal Edits Controversial New Poetry Collection, Still Called ‘Saudi Housewife’

This is a two-part post. Part one: The award-winning poet Hissa Hilal, who ended up third in the most recent season of Million's Poet, has recently edited a controversial collection of pre-1950s poems written by Bedouin women living in the Gulf. The book is titled Divorce and Kholu' Poetry: A Reading of the Status of … Continue reading Hissa Hilal Edits Controversial New Poetry Collection, Still Called ‘Saudi Housewife’

And the Winner is Not Hissa Hilal

For Hissa Hilal's international fans---most of whom, presumably, are unacquainted with her verse---the decision of last Million's Poet judges will be a disappointment. The show's winner was the 30-year-old Kuwaiti Nasser al Ajami. Al Ajami apparently received 67 per cent of the public votes and judge points. According to Hassan Hassan at The National (who … Continue reading And the Winner is Not Hissa Hilal

Tonight is ‘Million’s Poet’ Final Stop

Tonight's the night for Hissa Hilal---and the four other finalists competing against the suddenly world-famous Saudi poetess for the title of "Million's Poet." According to The National, the five finalists are: Falah al Mowraqi, 21, Kuwait, youngest finalist Hissa Hilal, 43, Saudi Arabia, first female finalist Sultan al Asaimar, 28, Kuwait, poetry editor Jazaa al … Continue reading Tonight is ‘Million’s Poet’ Final Stop

Is Hissa Hilal’s Poetry Good (and by What Standards)?

Applause for Hissa Hilal was heard 'round the world after her most recent Million's Poet performance. Her fatwa-criticizing poem, a rough translation of which originally appeared in The National, became instantly popular. Perhaps not as many blogged about Hilal as about Susan Boyle, but, yanni. The praise was unadulterated---a Saudi woman! standing for peace and … Continue reading Is Hissa Hilal’s Poetry Good (and by What Standards)?

Finally, a (Rough) Translation of One of the ‘Million’s Poet’ Finalists

The courageous and gifted Hissa Hilal, who has brushed off a death threat and is on her way to the "Million's Poet" finals, has finally received a rough translation into English. She's the first female poet to reach the show's final round. I would love to see a poet's rendering of her work. This is … Continue reading Finally, a (Rough) Translation of One of the ‘Million’s Poet’ Finalists