Iraqi Poetry - Modernity and Communication

Soheil Najm

    In the face of ugliness which stormed the world man needs the beauty to try to deal with that ugliness and surpass it, in the face of the brutal killing and deaths man needs to accept life and interact with vitality. In the face of chaos man, also, needs to order and arrange his things to be able to overcome the difficulties and enjoy his life. In short, to pass the world of non-poetry which life transformed into a mechanism overwhelming man and the whole world man needs poetry, that lingual thing which is difficult to be identified, but it's easy to feel it and its pleasure that makes man having the ecstasy and the strength to resist in this arid desert called everyday life.
    As I said it is not easy to define poetry, no one can put a specific framework or monopolize a definition for it and say this is poetry as there are countless visions here and we do not have only to note that there are common features that can be found at a certain age or a certain group. On this basis, I would say that the important current in today's Iraqi poetry is the model of modern prose poem assuming that this model is the best style in expressing the internality of man in Iraq today. This doesn't mean that this tendency claims a monopoly of poetry but, according to the today's Iraqi poets visions, as we read that in their interviews and essays, it is the closest style of poetry to modern man based on its spaciousness in form and thought. In fact, most of the Iraqi poets believe that the prose poem involving more opportunities in charging beauty in the poem and certainly the highest in the ability to generate ideas and visions.
    Adopting this vision and understanding of poetry and its genuine necessity prominent writers in Iraqi poetry longed, after the era of getting rid of the authoritarian rule, to deliver this vision to the people through various means and innovative communicative procedures. It is the right of poets of this period to claim that they are the first who searched to deliver poetry to the receiver through the channels of the social communications, the Facebook for instance, the universities classrooms, the cafes and even the worshipping houses. They made brotherhood with the river Tigris and chose a place on its shoulder to meet poetry lovers on Fridays. This meeting became an intimate encounter in which poets managed to connect the poetic revelation to the recipients as the recipients enjoyed the uniqueness of experience. Also the poets went to the university to communicate with students and teachers to break the isolation of the Iraqi university from what the last Iraqi poets created today. They, moreover, held their cessions in clubs and popular cafes for the first time, seeking to connect the new poetic spirit to the non-elite recipients.
    In the Iraqi Poetry House (IPH) they paid attention to the artistically advanced poetic sounds who remained in the shade, and have for the first time to held effective activities, for example, the symbolic activity they called "Appeals to the Anonymous Reader" by having poets recite their poems first and then put the poems in bottles and deliver these bottles in the Tigris River in a signal to communicate with the other.
    Place is not an obstacle any more. Poets held cessions under the hot sun in al-Mutanabi street, where most of the Iraqi intellectuals meet, and the audience unite with them, despite the heat of the sun in Summer and the coldest days in Winter. Poets presented poetry to the people when they were sitting in the outdoors, seeking to create a more coherent atmosphere between the poet and his audience. Whenever we have provided an appropriate atmosphere for the poet and recipients the gap narrowed between them and perhaps this atmosphere stimulates an opportunity for the poet and his recipients to be closer to each other in terms of the technique of poetry.
    The identity of Iraqi poetry today is actually freedom as an exercise away from partisanship and away from whatever rigid ideologies. Most of poets openly opposed to be under any political mantle of fixed conviction because this will put them in a bound box and surround them with incompatible dictates that contradict with their creative orientation.

    1- Ra’ad Abdulqadir
    (Born1950, died in 2003.
    Published books: Let the Nightingale Wonder, Baghdad, 1996, A Hawk, a Sun Over His Head: Baghdad, 2002.)

    Let the Nightingale Wonder
    Let the nightingale
    at the hand of disaster
    that trains him as a falcon.
    Let freedom
    remember its form;
    let the world
    test its wit.
    It is just a bird,
    whether it sings of the disaster
    or swoops down on the prey
    Let the nightingale

    (Translated by: Soheil Najm)

    They can do everything,
    look inside or outside,
    they can notice any movement in the air.
    In place, they don’t care about what happens.
    They are silent, gazing, convinced,
    happy with their love stories,
    with light penetrating their bodies.
    They enjoy their loneliness,

    (Translated by: Soheil Najm)

    2- Safa Thiyab
    (Born in Nasiria 1970.
    Published books: Anxious, Baghdad 2001. No One But Me, Baghdad 2005.)

    Who Knows?
    No standing statues
    no wind that knocks the door
    no fingers…
    no eyes…
    no hair…
    this is what he knows of always.
    And who knows, some of his skies might make time heavy?
    And he might rip the thunder…
    but who knows who he is?

    (Translated by: Dr. Sadek R. Mohammed)

    The Iraqi
    Every time he sees the blooming of a flower,
    the sun blazes him, so he escapes indoors.
    Every time the day is about to set,
    darkness attacks him,
    so he loses the garden.

    (Translated by: Dr. Sadek R. Mohammed)

    A God
    The sky that split
    was nothing but my lips.
    The land that was enraged
    was nothing but my eyes.
    And the mountains that were leveled
    were nothing but my fingers…

    And I am a god
    pushing you into the abyss.

    (Translated by: Dr. Sadek R. Mohammed)

    3-Mohammed al-Nassar
    (Born in Nasiriah, 1961.
    Published books: The Current of the Days, Baghdad, Competing Me on the Desert, Baghdad, Third Life, Beirut, 1993)

    Too Late
    Behold this mixture
    of thorns
    and shiny cunning.
    We young poets
    once said
    that when the language raged
    like stormy waves,
    it threw
    our dreams
    upon the edges of the river
    … I mean,
    upon the sluggish emptiness,
    in how many thousands of years.

    Edmonton 2006

    Water can be a devil too
    in this region
    when labyrinth
    the weapon of the Nazi God
    to restore his millstone.
    As for this jungle,
    Caesar makes jokes
    about its teary salt.
    Answering the terrible boredom
    of this desert,
    the poet burns a puzzling book
    in the name of the prince.

    This hand,
    sweeping over the stormy river,
    carelessly kicks up grains of sand
    that fall upon
    my words,
    their happy agility.
    Life cannot deny
    the despair
    of this stranger.
    A clown
    standing on the coast
    fumbles to find the connection
    between his heart
    and the drum he is carrying.

    Edmonton 2007

    ( Translated from Arabic by the poet himself. Edited by the Canadian editor Allan Shute.)

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