Friday, May 07, 2010

Some thoughts on literature and poetry

One day you will ask me which is more important? My life or yours? I will say mine and you will walk away not knowing that you are my life. -- Gibran Khalil Gibran

Although I thoroughly dislike quoting from Gibran, the line above struck a cord with me when I came across it today. There are some people who just don't get it, and I can accept that, but why are they all lined up waiting to meet me? There are many people who are far worse than me with whom they can go and waste life and time.

Going back to Gibran, my problem is not with his writings per se, he was in fact a very talented writer, but he is overrated through no fault of his own. The Lebanese and the urbane Arab diaspora all seem obliged to have a copy of his book The Prophet on their bookshelves, read once if that. In the same way Nizar Qabbani is constantly quoted and referred to ad nauseum. He was a great poet, although personally I find his poetry more obscene than "daring", annoyingly setting the trend for this ridiculous and artificial dichotomy - that gets the Arab intelligentsia salivating -between the forces of "conservatism" on the one hand and the daring cheekiness of rebels like Qabbani's followers. I think you get the picture of what I am getting at.

As with Gibran, Qabbani was also talented and nowhere was this more apparent than when the Arab fiasco in 1967 diverted him away from trashy love poetry into a more fiery and angry poetry that was intensely critical of Arab leadership and the general malaise. Credit where it is due, and I am the first to recognise that, but please stop making these men more than what they were.


ihath said...

Yeah! I finally know somebody who thinks that Qabbani is overated. Until now I thought I was the only one in the universe.

Maysaloon said...

Nope, there are many of us.