Rafeef Ziadah - ‘We teach life, sir’, London, 12.11.11
RAFEEF ZIADAH is a Canadian-Palestinian spoken word artist and activist. Her debut CD Hadeel is dedicated to Palestinian youth, who still fly kites in the face of F16 bombers, who still remember the names if their villages in Palestine and still hear the sound of Hadeel (cooing of doves) over Gaza.
I’m pretty sure I have already posted this before, but it is especially relevant today. Keeping those in Gaza in my duas. Make sure to participate in local protests if they are available in your community. It is our responsibility to make sure that Palestinian voices are heard, and to do our best to stop the violence.
In Afghanistan, where four-fifths of the population is illiterate, poetry has always had a strong position—especially among women. The Afghan writer and journalist Nushin Arbabzadah writes here a letter to the poet and Princesse Rabia Balkhi, who lived in the 900’s and faced a tragic fate. She fell in love with a slave and was imprisoned by her own brother because of it. She wrote her most famous poem in prison right before she died. She wrote it on the wall with her own blood.
Women Sufi poets were part of a widespread emancipation movement in the Indian Subcontinent and West Asia that started more than a thousand years ago and lasted till the nineteenth century. Interestingly, these poets fought for women’s rights at a time when that concept was still unformulated. This movement saw the emergence of women saints on an unprecedented scale, and was one of the most significant characteristics of the medieval age in West Asia and Southasia. Mystic women poets subverted conventional notions of gendered behaviour, helping women to defy stereotypes and break the chains of tradition and orthodoxy, which sought to control their sexuality. In the spiritual sphere of Sufism, physical distinction between male and female was often completely overlooked and the two were fused and identified. Many of the saints believed that all creation, being the product of the supreme creative power, was feminine.
Muhammad Iqbal, Aurat (Woman)
“It is the existence of the woman that gives the universe its colors. She is the leading instrument in the grand orchestra of life itself”’ - Allama Iqbal [Another translation of the first two lines]
Google’s doodle today celebrates Nazik al-Malaika, on the occasion of the 88th anniversary of her birthday. The famous Iraqi poet is known as one of the first Arabic poets to use free verse. As Salih J. Altoma puts it:
Nazik al-Mala’ika occupies a prominent position in modern Arabic literature not only because of her innovative, experimental poetry, but also because of her well-known systematic critical efforts and her views toward important artistic, linguistic, and intellectual issues in modern Arabic literature. Since the publication of her first collection, The Lover of Night (Ashiqat al-Layl, 1947), al-Mala’ika has contributed toward transforming Arabic poetry in terms of its orientation and structure. This is reflected equally in her own poetry and in her critical theorization of the new poetic form known as free verse.
Adab has a collection of some of her poems in Arabic. Her poems in English can be found in anthologies including The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology, edited by Nathalie Handal and Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology edited by Salma Khadra Jayyusi, as well as Iraqi Poetry Today edited by Weissbort, Daniel and Saadi Simawe, where she is represented here by five poems.