Poetry Depot

February 28, 2011

Again About Poetry and Arab Revolution

Filed under: Egypt, Egyptian — Tags: , , , , , , , — razvan @ 7:16 pm

CNN presented this image where Egyptian popular poet Ahmad Fu'ad Nigm rallies attendants during a public meeting organized by the opposition movement 'Writers and Artists for Change' in a main plaza in Cairo, August 2005.

According to CNN, poetry is an important part for the revolution from Egypt too. A venerable contemporary poet being in the cener of public protests.
Monday night at the 92nd Street Y in New York City, writers Reza Aslan, Azar Nafisi and Nathan Englander will take part in a panel, “Literature and Revolution in the Middle East” – on how poetry and novels have been used to fight for revolution throughout the Middle East—from Israel to Iran to Egypt.

ONLY ON THE BLOG: Answering today’s five OFF-SET questions is one of those panelists, Dr. Aslan, a contributing editor at the Daily Beast, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the author of “No God but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam and How to Win a Cosmic War” and editor of Tablet & Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East.”

By now we’ve heard that protesters in various Middle East countries are using Twitter and Facebook to coordinate anti-regime activities. But are you saying that demonstrators, including the many young people who have been protesting, are being informed by literature—by poems and novels?

What I am saying is that their very identity is being formed by the literature that is so much a part of the cultural awareness of the peoples of the Middle East. They are using social media to communicate and organize, but using poetry to define who they are. (more…)

Afghan Poetic Identity Today

Filed under: Afghan — Tags: , , , — razvan @ 2:08 am

When the BBC’s War correspondent Jonathan Charles made an appeal for Afghan civilians to send in their war poetry, little did he anticipate the flood of writing it would inspire. Here, he explores a selection of those poems and interviews the authors. The writers have many stories to tell which have inspired haunting poetry. Verse has, for some, become the best way of expressing not only the sights and sounds of the war, but the emotions. This is poetry of witness, of anger, propaganda, and it’s a catharsis. While Jonathan was interviewing one poet, the writer suddenly revealed that he had been the finance minister of Afghanistan in the 1970s and later lived under house arrest. He has turned away from politics and is now writing poetry.

Complete story and the voices of Afgan poetry, on BBC site

Poetry and Arab Revolution

Filed under: Africa, Arabic, Tunisia, Tunisian — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 1:25 am

The Will of Life

by Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi

If the people will to live
Providence is destined to favourably respond
And night is destined to fold
And the chains are certain to be broken

And he who has not embraced the love of life
Will evaporate in its atmosphere and disappear

Translated by As’ad Abu Khalil.

فلا بــدّ أن يستجيب القــــدر             إذا الشعب يوماً أراد الحيـــــــاة
ولا بـــدّ للقيـــد أن ينكســــر                ولا بدّ للــــيل أن ينجلــــــــــي
تبـــخّر في جــوّهـا واندثــــر                 ومن لم يُعانــقه شوق الحيــاة

image and poem from HERE

John Lundberg wrote for huffingtonpost.com

The words of a Tunisian poet helped spark revolution in his native country, then spread to help fuel the revolution in Egypt, and continue to inspire protests flaring up throughout the Middle East. Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabi’s poem “Will to Live,” written when Tunisia was struggling under French colonialism in the early 20th Century, captured the emotions of Tunisian protesters in their most recent struggle for democracy, and proved a powerful, unifying cry for freedom. “Will to Live” includes the following lines, which are memorized by school children throughout the Arab world (translated, of course): (more…)

December 29, 2010

WikiLeaks poetry and a documentary

Filed under: relational poetry — Tags: , , , , , , , — razvan @ 7:51 am

Information can win wars. In a strange logical twist, it seems to be more expensive to cover things up than to let information circulate. Actually, if information is known to open societies, I cannot remember one situation that secrecy managed to save anything. Except the idea that without secrecy manipulation becomes problematic. Let my information go! became the implicit logo of Julian Assange. As a Hacker, he used the alias of “mendax” from the phrase made famous by Horace, “splendide mendax”.

One only, true to Hymen’s flame,
Was traitress to her sire forsworn:
That splendid falsehood lights her name (more…)

December 26, 2010

Anja Utler, contemporary German poetry

Filed under: German — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 11:28 am

Anja Utler (1973) was born in Schwandorf, Germany. She studied Slavic languages and English. In 2003 she graduated in Russian lyric poetry from Regensburg and now lives as a free-lance poet in Vienna. Her most recent books of poetry were published under the titles münden – entzüngeln (mouthing – delinguation, 2004) and brinnen (2006). Among other prizes, she was awarded the Leonce-und-Lena-Preis (2003) and the Förderpreis der deutschen Schillerstiftung von 1859 prize (2006). (from Ars Poetica)

                    Articulation also occasionally occurs
                    [. . .] when inhaling (inverse sound).
                    Thus, for example, an inverse [f] is used
                    from time to time for the expression of a
                    sudden, mild pain.
                    R. Arnold / K. Hansen
much later is:
as if rattling as if: the breath got going and
along the edge capsules crackling, even cracking
the seeds they: spurt spray deeper, back
from the shoreline, across the land
before that:
tongue lining the gums with whispers
chirruping, trilling in the (. . .) in the heat
lost in haze – fresh-cut grass – it’s
whirring past – an echo – the wind

© 2003, Anja Utler
From: münden – entzüngeln
Publisher: Edition Korrespondenzen, Wien, Austria 2004
ISBN: 3-902113-33-2

© Translation: 2004, Tony Frazer
From: Mouth to Mouth. Contemporary German Poetry in Translation
Edited by Thomas Wohlfarth and Tobias Lehmkuhl.
Publisher: Giramondo Publishing Company: Newcastle, Australia 2004,

from Poetry International

December 25, 2010

The Art Part of Poetry

Filed under: American — Tags: , , — razvan @ 8:34 pm

The dark narative of contemporary cartoons allways seemed to me as a place to find poetry. One such example is Abandoned Cars, by Tim Lane.
http://jackienoname.com/JACKIEmain.html This interview I found with Lane, on Comics Reporter reminded me of Frank O’Hara and his experiments with art and poetry, and also made me think of Comics poetry as a genre in full expansion. Here, check, Bianca Stone’s Poetry Comics with tips on other poetry artist too, and find some hot cartoonists interviewed on their relation to poetry.
Billy Colins had his poetic take to cartoon characters and for a while this has been a systematic approach in poetry workshops.

December 15, 2010

Adonis: Contemporary Arab poet world acclaimed.

Filed under: Syria — Tags: , , , , — razvan @ 3:19 pm

Among the 17 best poetry books of the Fall 2010, Hunffington post lists a collection of Selected poems by Adonis translated in English for Yale University Press.

Adonis (Adunis)  is the contemporay Syrian poet that “grew international fame in the 1970s and 1980s as one of the Arab world’s leading poets, as well as one of its best-known intellectuals and critics. Finally, there is the Adonis of the 1990s and of the new century, grand old man of Arabic letters, university professor, author of some of the most controversial writings on Arabic culture of the last half century.”

(foto Time Out Dubai)

“what links these decades together, as well as the poetic and critical work they produced, is Adonis’s permanent commitment to an open future, which should take the legacy of the past forwards and outwards, resisting the temptation to be content with inherited attitudes. ”

According to Adonis, “Arab poetic modernity consists of a radical questioning that explores the poetic language and that opens up new experimental areas for writing. Writing here continually puts Arab civilisation in question, while at the same time putting itself in question.”

from Al Ahram Weekly


Desire Moving Through Maps of Matter
No, I have no country 
except for these clouds rising as mist from lakes of poetry. 
Shelter me, Dhawd, guard me, Dhawd! -- 
my language, my home-- 
I hang you like a charm around the throat of this era 
and explode my passions in your name 
not because you are a temple 
not because you are my father or mother 
but because I dream of laughter, and I weep through you 
so that I translate my insides 
and cling to you as I tremble as my sides shudder like windows 
shaken by a wind let loose from God's fingers.

from HP

And also a poem Adonis read in Arab followed by an English translation of his poem at Prague Writers Festival in 2009 (more…)

December 13, 2010

Tony Curtis, Welsh contemporary poet

Filed under: Uncategorized, Welsh — Tags: , , , — razvan @ 6:36 pm

Tony Curtis is Professor of Poetry at the University of Glamorgan where he directs the M. Phil Writing course. In 2001 he was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was awarded a D. Litt in 2004.  He has toured extensively giving poetry readings and lectures and won the 1993 Dylan Thomas Award and a Cholmondeley Award in 1997. He lives in Barry, Wales. from contemporary writers

When Sometimes all I can Imagine are Hands

 There is a winter within me,
 a place so cold, so covered in snow,
 I rarely go there. But sometimes,
 when all I can imagine are hands,
 when trees in the forest
 look like they’re made of wood,
 then I know it’s time
 to take my photograph of Akhmatova
 and sling it in a bag with socks and scarves.
 My neighbours must think it strange
 to see me strapping on my snowshoes,
 to hear me roar at the huskies
 as I untangle the harness.
 But when all you can imagine are hands
 it’s best to give a little wave
 and move out into the whiteness.

from Inpress

And a video using one of his poems:


December 10, 2010

A poem by Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Laureate for Peace in 2010

Filed under: chinese, chinese — Tags: , , , , , , — razvan @ 1:17 pm

The writer that caused all the stir at the Nobel Prize for Peace ceremony in 2010 is Liu Xiaobo. As he is still in jail in China for political reasons, the presence of foreign ambassadors in Oslo for the ceremony became a problem of diplomatic offence for Chinese officials. It looks like it is for the first time from 1936 when the prize is not received by the laureate or by someone from his family. Last time the laureate was living in Germany in nazi regime. According to news reports, this time the Chinese authorities placed even the wife of Liu Xiaobo under house arrest.

The Chinese reaction was not so hard to guess: “What on earth has Liu Xiaobo ever contributed to human peace?”.

China’s propaganda apparatus first put the spotlight on Liu’s allegedly treasonous views in the aftermath of the Tiananmen crackdown. Liu was jailed for his role in the student protests – and targeted for vitriolic attack by the official media. Liu, said the People’s Daily at the time, is a “traitor from head to toe.” (washingtonpost)

How can look a poem by someone that is convicted 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power”?

Longing to Escape 

for my wife
abandon the imagined martyrs
I long to lie at your feet, besides
being tied to death this is
my one duty
when the heart’s mirror-
clear, an enduring happiness
your toes will not break
a cat closes in behind
you, I want to shoo him away
as he turns his head, extends
a sharp claw toward me
deep within his blue eyes
there seems to be a prison
if I blindly step out
of with even the slightest
step I’d turn into a fish

8. 12. 1999

from Pen American Center

Liu Xiaobo is a political activist, university lecturer and author who has fought for a more democratic and open China for more than 20 years. His poetry collection was acquired by Graywolf editor Jeffrey Shotts (more…)

Wole Soyinka, contemporary poetry from Nigeria

Filed under: Africa, Nigeria — Tags: , , , — razvan @ 10:48 am

He is called “Nigeria’s warrior poet”. In 1986 The Nobel Prize for literature was awarded to him, “who in a wide cultural perspective and with poetic overtones fashions the drama of existence”. (Nobel prize web)
In 1999 emerges new tome of his poems entitled Outsiders. His newest play released in 2001 has a title “King Baabu” and is another strong, political satire on African dictatorship. In 2002 a collection of his poems Samarkand and Other Markets I Have Known is printed by Methuen. And in 2004 utters WS: A Life is Full, an illustrated biography of Wole Soyinka by Bankole Olayebi, with more than 600 photographs since 1934.
The latest release of WS is a memoir called “You Must Set Forth at Dawn”, published in April 2006 by Random House. ( from Wole Soyinka blog)

In The Small Hours

Blue diaphane, tobacco smoke Serpentine on wet film and wood glaze, Mutes chrome, wreathes velvet drapes, Dims the cave of mirrors. Ghost fingers Comb seaweed hair, stroke acquamarine veins Of marooned mariners, captives Of Circe's sultry notes. The barman Dispenses igneous potions ? Somnabulist, the band plays on.

Cocktail mixer, silvery fish
Dances for limpet clients.
Applause is steeped in lassitude,
Tangled in webs of lovers' whispers
And artful eyelash of the androgynous.
The hovering notes caress the night
Mellowed deep indigo? still they play.
Departures linger. Absences do not
Deplete the tavern. They hang over the haze
As exhalations from receded shores. Soon,
Night repossesses the silence, but till dawn
The notes hold sway, smoky
Epiphanies, possessive of the hours.
This music's plaint forgives, redeems
The deafness of the world. Night turns
Homewards, sheathed in notes of solace, pleats
The broken silence of the heart.
from Famous Poets

Also, you can check this CNN interview with Soyinka (more…)

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