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Artscape: Poets of Protest
Poets of Protest
This series delves into the soul of the Middle East with intimate profiles of poets who seek to interpret and inspire.
Last Modified: 02 Sep 2012 12:55

Poets of Protest delves into the soul of the Middle East with intimate profiles of six contemporary poets, as they struggle to lead, to interpret and to inspire. 

Poetry in the Middle East lives and breathes as in few other places.

In a region long dominated by authoritarian regimes, poetry is the medium for expressing people's hopes, dreams and frustrations. Poets became historians, journalists, entertainers - even revolutionaries.

Ever since Tunisians chanted Abu al-Qasim al-Shabi's If the People Wanted Life One Day poetry has been a key weapon of the Arab Spring, used to taunt regimes' refusing to see the writing on the wall.

As the revolution spread to Egypt, it turned out that the writing on the wall was also poetry - graffiti by young artists painting the works of poets like al-Shabi or Egypt's Ahmed Fouad Negm.

Poets of Protest focuses on the writers, their political and artistic struggles, and their work, with beautifully filmed visual interpretations of the poems.

In Egypt, we are treated to a rare, intimate profile of 82-year-old folk hero and Egyptian poetry superstar Ahmed Fouad Negm, dubbed "the voice of the revolution", and Syria's renowned poet Hala Mohamad tells us about the pain of watching from exile as her country is violently torn apart.

But Poets of Protest also goes beyond the Arab Spring to hear the works of Mazen Maarouf from Palestine, Manal al-Sheikh from Iraq, Yehia Jaber from Lebanon and the "the poet of the rifle", Al Khadra, from Western Sahara. 

Artscape: Poets of Protest can be seen on Al Jazeera English from August 31, 2012.

Ahmed Fouad Negm: Writing a Revolution

         "When I love I love really well. When I eat I eat really well. When I write I write really well."

Egyptian folk hero Ahmed Fouad Negm is called the "voice of the revolution", but at 82, will he ever write again

Hala Mohammad: Waiting for Spring

           "The most beautiful poem written this year is 'the Syrian people will not be humiliated'."

Exiled in Paris, Syrian poet Hala Mohammad despairs for her country as the Syrian crisis deepens.

Yehia Jaber: Laughter is My Exit

                                                     "All revolutions begin as poetry."

Yehia Jaber takes us on a journey across Lebanon to discover why this former communist fighter now battles for change with nothing but words.

Manal al-Sheikh: Fire Won't Eat Me Up

                             "I really hate to say this but this is the truth; there is no Iraq now."

It is lethal for Manal al-Sheikh to write in Iraq, so she struggles to inspire her huge Facebook and Twitter following from snowy Norway.

Mazen Maarouf: Hand Made

                     "The cause of Palestine doesn't need emotions anymore, we need minds."

Mazen Maarouf was raised in Lebanon but his outspoken work has forced him to cope with a double exile, to Iceland. Now this wandering Palestinian poet's only security is his notebook.

Al Khadra: Poet of the Desert

            "The men that trained the women said: 'It's not fair to walk in front of a Sahrawi woman'."

Sahrawi nomad 'poet of the rifle' Al Khadra is illiterate, but her oral verse is vivid testament to three decades of the Sahara conflict.

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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