Things I Didn't Know I Loved*

* If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer...
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in! Come in!

(Shel Silverstein)

March 26, 2006


The Last Word

Roger McGough on relationships:

You and I

'I explain
quietly. You
hear me shouting. You
try a new tack. I
feel old wounds reopen.

You see both sides. I
see your blinkers. I
am placatory. You
sense a new selfishness.

I am a dove. You
recognize the hawk. You
offer an olive branch. I
feel the thorns.

You bleed. I
see crocodile tears. I
withdraw. You
reel from the impact.'

March 22, 2006


Bjork vs. e.e.cummings

A match made in quirk heaven.

cummings' poem, a thing of beauty:

'it may not always be so; and i say
that if your lips, which i have loved, should touch
another's, and your dear strong fingers clutch
his heart, as mine in time not far away;
if on another's face your sweet hair lay
in such a silence as i know, or such
great writhing words as, uttering overmuch,
stand helplessly before the spirit at bay;

if this should be, i say if this should be-
you of my heart, send me a little word;
that i may go unto him, and take his hands,
saying, Accept all happiness from me.
Then shall i turn my face, and hear one bird
sing terribly afar in the lost lands.'

Then listen to Bjork's gorgeous rendition,
'Sonnets/Unrealities XI'.


March 21, 2006


Chinua Achebe

Depressing Mother's Day-themed poetry, anyone?

Refugee Mother and Child

'No Madonna and Child

could touch that picture of a mother's tenderness
for a son she soon will have to forget.

The air was heavy with odors
of diarrhea of unwashed children

with washed-out ribs and dried-up
bottoms struggling in labored
steps behind blown empty bellies.
Most mothers there had long ceased
to care but not this one; she held
a ghost smile between her teeth
and in her eyes the ghost of a mother's
pride as she combed the rust-colored
hair left on his skull and then -
singing in her eyes - began carefully
to part it... In another life
this would have been a little daily
act of no consequence before his
breakfast and school; now she
did it like putting flowers
on a tiny grave.'

Another famous novelist-cum-underrated poet.
Read more here and here.

March 18, 2006


Ahmed Al-Aidy

I'm not actually sure I love him yet. But I've heard plenty of interesting things about his (hmm, can a book be called a sleeper hit?)

ان تكون عباس العبد , now translated (by Humphrey Davies) as Being Abbas el-Abd.

And I'll be soon be finding out. On Wednesday, the American University in Cairo's English & Comparative Literature Department will be hosting a reading by Al-Aidy as part of their (often but not always interesting) Emerging Creative Voices Series.

So that's:

Ahmed Al-Aidy

Wednesday 22nd March

AUC Blue Room on the Greek Campus


(Image nicked from signandsight.)

After that, at 7pm, you can mosey over to the Townhouse Gallery to check out:

...part of their Borrowed Film Series (aka: films you would never otherwise see in Cairo).

IMDB synopsis begins: 'Safe has been described as a "horror movie of the soul", a description that director Todd Haynes relishes.'
A user review is titled: 'Seen it several times, and still don't know what to think.'

Intriguing, non?

Roll on Wednesday!

March 12, 2006


Hubble Bubble Toil and Trouble

Mijke. Half-Dutch, half-Scottish, grew up in Oman. Currently living on a nature reserve in South Africa studying baboons.
Ultimate Frisbee* champion. Brilliant storyteller and famous children's writer to be.
Remember: you heard it here first.

*yes, it took her a while to convince me that's actually a sport, and now I'm a convert

Both photos taken in Winchester, England; Summer 2005.

March 10, 2006


Things to Bolster Your Sometimes Sagging Faith in Egypt

Salah Jahin

غمض عينيك و ارقص بخفة و د لع
الدنيا هي الشابة و انت الــــــــجدع
تشوف رشاقة خطوتك تعبــــــــدك
لكن انت لو بصيت لرجليك ....تـقع
!! عجبي

I love him. He makes everything okay.
25 pages of Rubaiyat here.

March 08, 2006


The Last Word

D.H. Lawrence on Self-Pity:

'I never saw a wild thing
sorry for itself.
A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough
without ever having felt sorry for itself. '

Good selection of D.H. Lawrence poems here.
Check out 'My Naughty Book', second from the bottom - Lawrence's hilarious,
embittered and profanity-infested rant about the reaction to Lady Chatterley's Lover.


The Last Word

John Hegley on women:


I said Pat
you are fat
and you are cataclysmically desirable
and to think I used to think
that slim was where it's at
well not any more Pat
you've changed that
you love yourself
you flatter yourself
you shatter their narrow image of the erotic
and Pat said
what do you mean FAT?

March 07, 2006


Margaret Atwood

I don't understand why this woman is better known as a novelist than as a poet.
(I take this as an indication of the general huge disparity in numbers between fiction readers and poetry readers,
rather than of the relative quality of her two - for lack of a less uppity phrase - 'forms of expression'.)

Read: strongly disliked the couple of her novels that I read, but love a lot of her poems. Here's one of my favourites.

Variations on the Word Love

'This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions.
There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
This word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go.'

More Atwood-the-poet here.

March 04, 2006


Khaled Mattawa

Borrowed Tongue

'Maybe I'm a fool
holding two threads,
one black, one white,
waiting for dawn
to tell them apart.
But I'm only practicing
my religion which
I neither borrowed
nor stole.
Maybe I'm a fool
thinking of a better answer
than the transplant patient
who said I'm sorry
someone had to die.

No, I haven't outgrown
my tongue. It's a coat
your mother gives you,
crimson or cobalt blue,
satin inside, the collar
wide enough to cover
your whole neck.
All winter you wear it
then spring comes
but never goes.
That's Arabic to me.
I wear a white shirt now--
thin gray stripes,
top button gone--
and it fits.'

Khaled Mattawa is a poet and translator, Libyan by birth, who emigrated to the US as a teenager.
I attended a reading in Cairo a few years ago, and his poetry is even better read aloud by him. You wouldn't think so, but this is in fact (fact being my opinion) an exceedingly rare thing - it's been my experience that most poets suck at reading their own poetry.

Dive into some more of his work here.

Update: Thanks to rockslinga, you can listen to Khaled's signature Southern crooning here.
'Tis true, slinga, not quite the same as seeing him in person, but as I always say: Pre-Recorded Mattawa is better than No Mattawa At All.

March 03, 2006


My Spiritual Parents

Not biological, but better.
Taken near Chateau de Biron in Dordogne, South of France; September 2005.

March 02, 2006


Pablo Neruda

This man is at least half the reason I'm learning Spanish.

Morning XVVII

'Naked, you are simple as one of your hands,
smooth, earthy, small, transparent, round:
you have moon-lines, apple-paths:
naked, you are slender as a naked grain of wheat.

Naked, you are blue as a night in Cuba;
you have vines and stars in your hair;
naked you are spacious and yellow
as summer in a golden church...'


March 01, 2006


The Guardian, for sentimental reasons

They demand to know
Why I love thee, The Guardian:
Let me count the ways...

Scoffing, are we? Think you can do better?

Try The Guardian's Daily Haiku.


February 2006   March 2006   April 2006   August 2006   September 2006   March 2007   April 2007   December 2009  

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?