Monthly Archives: January 2015

Poem and Prose in Wild River Review: The Dogs of Ashdod and Im Kamil

Deir Keifa Wild RIver Review Picture

The good folks at Wild RIver Review solicited poetry and prose from me during the most recent invasion of Gaza. I sent them several pieces and they picked these two pieces, a brave choice as these were the most hard-hitting ones. The first is a poem that is based on a conversation I had with a Palestinian boy on skype during the invasion and the second is a prose piece written in my aunt Walade’s voice (the picture that is included in the story is of her offering flowers in a field in Deir Keifa, our little village and my favorite literary subject).  In this short prose piece my aunt retells how she witness a the killing of a neighbor by an armed Israeli MK drone.  The title Im Kamil (mother of kamil) comes from the name that the villagers of south Lebanon gave to this ever present menace in their skies.

There I have a view of the olive grove and the wheat fields, all the way to the schoolhouse, and it’s a clean view. Here I can look out on this land and remember how your father courted your mother when he was working in those wheat fields in the summer.  I can remember how Rabab used to sing over there on that perched house and her voice would carry all the way across the fields, into the houses across the way.  I can think of all these things and not think at all.

Essay on Zajal (art of the poetic duel) in Jadaliyya

Image of zajal performance in Byblos from The Times of Malta

Image of zajal performance in Byblos from The Times of Malta

This is an autobiographical piece published in online journal Jadaliyya about Zajal (the art of the poetic duel that I grew up with) and how it was effected when electricity and TV came to my village of Deir Keifa in southern Lebanon. The story was shared widely and was also linked later in the Arablit blog which in turn expanded on the history of Zajal.

“We gasped every time a poet ended with an impossible word. We would whisper to each other, ‘He just ended with MULE! How are you supposed to start a stanza with mule?’ But just when we thought the combatant was stumped, a stanza would shoot back at the attacker. Soccer had nothing on zajal. In our house, the courtyard was the main arena for zajal.”