Last week, Hesham al-Gakh skipped the "Prince of Poets" competition in order to join Egypt's new day.
There hasn't yet been a January 25-inspired poem to hit the "Prince of Poets" TV show (granted, it's only 6 a.m. on Jan. 26), nor anything as enjoyable as the Jan. 25 protest chants: يا مبارك, يا مبارك. السعوديّة بإتنظارك.
Let's grit our teeth and get this over with: Did (the extremely talented and worthy) Ibrahim al-Koni win Egypt's "Arab Novel Prize" because judging chair Gaber Asfour wanted to return a chit to Moammar Ghaddafi? After all, Libya awarded Asfour the Ghaddafi Prize for International Literature earlier this year.
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
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’
International poetry star Hissa Hilal did not win the Million's Poet finals two weeks ago. But was this because she wasn't the best poet---or because she didn't have a big enough family with deep enough pockets? That's the allegation that was aired yesterday in The National. The winner, Nasser al Ajami (pictured), was crowned the … Continue reading Million’s Poet Crown Stolen from Hilal?
One of the things Anglo reporters seem stunned about, in the Million's Poet coverage, is this "very different kind of reality TV." (Where are the hidden cameras? The lawsuits? The tears and fights? Good thing said reporters haven't heard about Amr Khaled's Islamic reality TV show.) Okay, the reporters seem to say, those Arabs have … Continue reading ‘A Very Different Kind of Reality TV’
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'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
It's not often that a poet attains international celebrity of the sort enjoyed by "Britain's Got Talent" songstress Susan Boyle. Even less often is it that this a poet who writes and performs in Arabic. Of course, Hissa Hilal's "Million's Poet"-sparked celebrity attaches less to her art and more to the idea of her as … Continue reading The Hissa Hilal Reportage Roundup
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)?
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