Linking to a piece I wrote for ‘Wordgathering’ awhile back:
Linking to a piece I wrote for ‘Wordgathering’ awhile back:
My latest collection of prose-poems is a collaboration with a young Kuwaiti artist. Here’s the link on Amazon, available as paperback and as an e-book on Kindle.
The book is also in Kuwait bookstores: Muse Cafe Bookstore (symphony mall) and Jarir Bookstore.
It was fun working with this artist as we never actually met! We went back and forth with sketches and words. The book is mainly about loss, death, time, and our emotions as vulnerable beings navigating the world.
Last night, January 16th, 2017 was a beautiful night, at least in my journey. I was invited for a book discussion with a wonderful group, ‘Book Therapy Kuwait.’ They also invited two other groups/associations, ‘The Divan’ and ‘Kuwait Poets Society.’ I am still speechless and unable to find the words to describe the vibrant energy and creativity that exploded yesterday! I will simply post the videos to speak for themselves. After the book discussion, Kuwait Poets Society had three of their brilliant members perform/read their poetry in response to my book Forget the Words. I was left awe-struck and my jaw dropped at the way they were able to react to the work, the way they reshaped it, re-envisioned it, and produced their own poetic contributions. The three women poets each responded in a different way, each her own twist, and yet, they all chose words/lines from my work that resonated with them. It was mind-blowing, to say the least.
Nada Faris is a published writer and for copyright issues I won’t be posting her rendition of the work, but her work is accessible on http://www.nadafaris.com. Nada is a performance poet and an avid writer. She had the entire audience awe-struck once she finished reading her poem. I was not surprised with Nada’s creativity and ease with words! I have followed her work closely throughout the years and respect her professionalism and loyalty to poetry and its various outputs.
Farah Al-Wugayan, “xxmantras” on social media, is also in the process of publishing her own book. Farah wrote and shared two poems. She responded to “Presence” and “Belong.” Farah was brilliant in her ability to feel EXACTLY what I was struggling to express, this idea of belonging/not belonging. I sat there, completely mesmerized. As always, her work is magical and heartfelt, pouring poetic jouissance into her audience.
Rawa Majdi, the founder of Kuwait Poets Society, one of the most productive and supportive women I met, also was on stage. She wrote a heartbreaking poem, a response to “A Room Without Light.” I will post both of her readings, of my work, and then her own depiction of the text. Rawa was able to have us all transfixed on her interpretation of the words. As she spoke, I felt pieces of my heart break, and I was moved by her choice of words, her ability to allude to the “madness” in love.
All in all, there was so much soul, poetry, and magic that night. That is the beauty of words, of language, of connection. Yesterday we were all brought together because of the love for writing, the love for words, and the endless support we have for each other. Strangers, friends, colleagues, students of mine, poets, readers – everyone was radiating. Blessed. Here’s to a wonderful start to 2017!
below: Nada Faris
Last two videos: Rawa
Finally a quick glimpse from the discussion
The past few days have been unusually difficult. Getting out of bed, making it through another day has been sort of a hassle. I don’t mean to dwell on this. But, the point of the post, I was asked to speak about what it feels to love, and to be in love, and to be confined at the same time. To be stuck. To be stuck in a body. To be stuck in space. To be disconnected. This was a very experimental type of performance, no real style, and the audience was very open and receptive. I worked with a wonderful Yoga instructor and dancer, and she felt that the words resonated within her. I did it for fun, mostly. And I chose the words that were mainly about you.
Sometimes, I think the words bring us closer. Sometimes, I think the words can reach you. Do you still believe? I want to know.
You wake up one day and the bed is empty. Love has left. Wait, there is movement. Someone pulls the covers away. You rub your eyes and there she is, but she looks different. Older. Sadder. There are grey hairs. Autonomy stares at you. You shift uncomfortably under her gaze. What to do now?
We were friends. Every night, I went to sleep, not thinking of consequences. But one fine morning (nah, I’m kidding, it wasn’t fine), I found that the cat’s scratch was right underneath my eyelid. I ignored it. The following morning, the scratch had made itself at home. I stared at its presence. Words on flesh. The cat’s constant purring was too close for comfort, and just when I thought I could hold her close, it pawed at my face, clumsily perhaps, but nevertheless, there it was, a scar had formed. On my face. Just in case I tried to forget. I am still me, except for the scar she carved. But the cat is still a fine creature, demanding of attention, willing to reciprocate every once in awhile, moody, loving, and unpredictable. Would she have scratched if she cared “enough”? Can you measure a concept as vague and as fleeting as affection/love?
After a long day, when all I want to do is drop my guard, she climbs onto my lap and stares at me. Anticipating. Waiting. Inquiring. Greeted by silence, she meows and purrs as though we have no history. I don’t recall the words, it’s hard enough when we speak different languages. I can only touch the now scabrous skin. Each night it digs itself further into me.
There are very few beautiful boundaries in the world. But you are by far the strangest definition of a chimera.
box me up, and take me home.
Do I believe in miracles? No, but it seems the Universe has an oppositional view. Miracles not only exist, but they come in the form of you.
I wasn’t sure whether I was more afraid of your existence, or that the Universe had finally granted me my Miracle, or even worse, that I would not be able to keep you.
I asked you whether you knew that you were a Miracle, and you whispered as though the angels spoke through you:
‘You ask me how I can possibly exist. And I know that I exist only for you. My chest has cracked, when I believed it was made of Iron bars. It split itself open to make room for you. Don’t leave it open for too long, come in, and kiss my heart. No more doubts.”
And yet, the Big Question remains: are we newborn believers, or will Romantic Atheism prevail?
There are a few moments in life when you come face to face with a world that is beyond comprehension. I recall that certain day, the way it had begun for me. I was unsure of my place within the world, let alone within that room. It was a big room, bland in all aspects, not worthy of a description. But there you were, sitting in a corner, and my eyes found their way to yours. You looked away, or maybe it was I who betrayed your gaze. And I found myself thinking of what it would be like to stand close to you, to be able to see my reflection in your eyes. You looked back at me, and I was consumed by embarrassment, thinking you had heard my thoughts.
You were as graceful as an otherworldy creature and as light as air. The world marveled at you, and yet you could not see it. And I wanted to touch you, to slowly carve words onto your skin. Adjectives that could capture your ethereal light, words that you would carry within you, words that could remind you of the effect you have on me –even after I’m gone. I wanted you to remember the things you had forgotten about yourself, and I wanted to protect you from forgetting the way my eyes had devoured you on that certain day. I wanted you to recall every detail of your beauty, every angle of your smile, and the sound of your laughter. Everything you viewed as mundane about yourself was not worth forgetting. I couldn’t risk you forgetting. And so I began to write you, and you began to read, and we both started to believe.
The Devil visited me last night, and asked if I would sell my soul.
His trip was futile. A waste of energy (his and mine)
I confessed that I had ripped my soul out of my body, and handed it to you.
That was a long time ago.
I now know this:
The body does survive without a soul.
And we both know that a deal with the Devil would’ve preserved my dignity.