Archive for March, 2010

Hissa Hilal, woman poet and master of bedouin dialect poetry, rocked the Arab world (and my world) by winning the Million’s Poet competition aired on Abu Dhabi state television.

She has since received death threats for the words of this poem. I think the real power is in her voice. And in the incredibly brave stance she is taking. Read more about the story at Times Online.

The Chaos of Fatwas

I have seen evil from the eyes of the subversive fatwas
in a time when what is lawful is confused with what is not lawful;

When I unveil the truth, a monster appears from his hiding place;
barbaric in thinking and action, angry and blind;
wearing death as a dress and covering it with a belt

He speaks from an official, powerful platform,
terrorizing people and preying on everyone seeking peace;
the voice of courage ran away and the truth is cornered and silent,
when self-interest prevented one from speaking the truth.

-Hissa Hilal


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I think I could turn and live with animals, they’re so placid and self contain’d,
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition,
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins,
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God,
Not one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,
Not one is respectable or unhappy over the earth.

–Walt Whitman

Left as a comment by Karen 5.0.

Thank you, Karen. Whitman always does it for me.

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from “Tamburlaine the Great” (Part 1, Act V, 160-173)

What is beauty, saith my sufferings, then?
If all the pens that ever poets held
Had fed the feelings of their masters’ thoughts
And every sweetness that inspired their hearts,
Their minds and muses on admired themes;
If all the heavenly quintessence they still
From their immortal flowers of poesy,
Wherein as in a mirror we perceive
The highest reaches of a human wit —
If these had made one poem’s period
And all combined in beauty’s worthiness,
Yet should there hover in their restless heads
One thought, one grace, one wonder at the least,
Which into words no virtue can digest.

-Christopher Marlowe

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The book lies open
in all the hallways
in all the oases
in all the dreams
around every corner
behind every sand dune

in this dream too
you have to add a line
your place is between
the already written
& the unwritten,
in the white empty space.

In this dream
Stalin smiled, & Heidegger too
in this dream
scuttled from the book–but it had to be written in, despite
the smiles.

A dream of a book
a dream of a desert in a book
a dream of a desert that runs from the book
a dream of a  book and a desert
a dream of sand through fingers
a dream of white
a dream of mica
a dream of fennecs
a dream of a desert spilling from the book
into and through the hallway and out the door

And a voice said
write the book
& you will be healed

A voice said a voice said

my middle my voice my will
write in the book

write the desert
the dream
write the sand the white write the running
dream the book.

-Pierre Joris, from H.J.R.

Order the Book

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