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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Upon Reading Poetry Blog




I was searching for a poem by Louis MacNeice, "Selva Oscura" when I come across an amazing blog of poetry in which many poems are posted with few lines in comment on them and their meaning. Being that passionate about anything related to poetry, I kept browsing the blog and its informative posts and it hits me: how come i have never done that before?

The blog is not maintained by poetry professor, nor by some critic; Stephen Pentz, the blogger, is actually a retired attorney who sounds well-read in modern poetry. What actually made me wonder while i browse his blog is that how come in my blog I never thought of doing the same? Why I waste my posts on ramblings over what happens with me, which, let's face it, is not that much or unusual, and I can't even talk about it in clear terms, and had always to hide it!! If i don't want to talk about my life, then I should not rather than confuse whoever reads my posts with obscurities to protect my privacy.

Poetry has been always close to my heart; it never fails to express me, whether it is written by me or by someone else. The words I read in a poem feel like wings carrying me light to another world: crystal clear world where I can see truth, about me and others. However, I failed to pay poetry its due; for I never commit myself to writing the way I should be if I want to evolve as a poet, nor I commit myself to poetry studying if I really want to be expert critic. Even when it comes to the simple activity of reading poetry, which is essential to anyone who dreams of being a poet or a critic, or even a poetry teacher, even this simple activity couldn't find enough attention with me. I lagged behind my reading, writing and study, indulged in self-pity, and remorse over spilled milk, fears of future that hasn't come yet and a tomorrow that no one has a guarantee for.

But this blog enlightened me to what I need to do, to channel my emotions in a favorite river: poetry, and let it speak for me. I have read many poems that touched me with its universality, and depth of meaning that no matter what are the circumstances surrounding its writing in the first place, these poems have evolved into a life of their own, a life that can relate to its readers' perception of their words.

Is this a New Year resolution? Or another task that I try to keep myself distracted with? I really can't tell now, but all I can say that I have found something to fill in a long-time blank hole inside, and it is just about time to be occupied with something fruitful. 

Nadia F. Mohammed     

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Seeing Things: Reality of My Own



This is my tenth year teaching undergraduate students in the department of English language. Majored in English literature, I spent the last decade of my life discussing and arguing about novels, poems, plays and literary theories written in English with students who barely know how to read this foreign language. Teachers of conversation, comprehension and grammar suffer with students who hardly manage to pass their classes; however, I get into their classes afterwards demanding from my students to read literature written with such figuratively sophisticated language that dazzle many professional critics.

When I think of my job, and contemplate what I actually do, I realize that I am either a dreamer, who has no grasp of the reality of things, or I have such perverse personality that finds happiness in the misery of others; for I am sure my lectures are pure torture for most of these poor learners!!

With the hope that I am not the second possibility, and that I still retain some symptoms of humanity in me, which I assume still exist regardless of what I have seen in my life, I can myself a dreamer, or an idealist who can't see reality as it is, rather as it should be. I live inside my brain, with my own inventions, expectations, and dreams rather with the actual events around me. I always tell my students that they have to do this, should be that…etc. I never actually accepted the reality of things, never accepted their low level of English, or the fact that not everyone is passionate about literature the way I am.
My escape from reality has been always a trait in me since childhood. I find this reality that surrounds me sterile, dry, and also suffocating; there is always something missing from this reality, and above all, it is something that I can't really control. Thus, whenever an opportunity for imagination, expectation, or invention of events, I go ahead, and grow attach to a reality that I have invented myself. Maybe this is why I am so passionate about literature, for the world created in those novels is a world I can see all its dimensions, nothing is mysterious to me, and if I don't like how things are going on, I can just close the book and move to another world, or another novel.

That wouldn't be a problem if I didn't have so many disappointments in life, but how can I avoid that since I create my own trap and fell into it?!!

My real problem is that I can't help it: I can't hold off my imagination from creating possibilities for tomorrow, I can't stop it from drawing my future with number of seniors, even if all the possibilities I put ahead are far-fetched! In simple words, I can't stop dreaming, nights and days, even most of my dreams will never come true, but still, my mind will continue creating new worlds for me, hoping that one day, maybe, one of them will hit reality at the end.

Nadia F. Mohammed  
              



 


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Little Things Do Count



Life is hard, and the journey is exhausting; sometimes one wants to scream at the top of my voice.  Lately, it doesn't take much to see me collapsing, drowned in tears, praying for an end of unknown pain. The least inconvenience puts dark clouds over my head, burdening me with a desire to run away from life. However, somehow the urge of life proves stronger in me than I ever thought it to be.

I may have failed life, and proved myself an eccentric alien to this game called living, but sometimes a beam penetrates the clouds, breaking, even if weakly, the gray color with some feeble gold. Such beams always come from my career.

I've been lately engaged in several activities in my work, coordinating some literary sessions between our students and some lecturers in the US embassy. Such activities have been found useful and quite motivating for the students, and given the opportunity to show foreigners the achievements of the students in English language and literature.

All the events I have co-planned and organized gave me joy, but above all restored my self-confidence, after being in crisis for quite a long time. When I started teaching nine years ago, I didn't know how to do it: how to establish channels of communication between me and the people sitting in front of me in class. Sometimes I failed in gaining their very attention to the topic under discussion, sometimes I failed in convincing them to get involve in discussion. I had never fancied myself a teacher, and when I started this job, I knew that I was not made for it!
However, as they say practice makes perfect. Every year taught me something, giving me new skills, till it came a time when I got into class knowing exactly what to do and how to draw my students ' attention to what I was saying. Such achievements, little sometimes seemed to me, but made me more comfortable in my workplace, even with the annoyance and nagging of my ex-boss.

With the new boss' encouragement and the space he gave me to act, I managed to cross many limits, establishing new mode and tone for the department. All the activities I have participated in organizing made me feel good about myself, forget, even if temporary, the harshness of the life am living, and the many life disappointments that I suffer every day.

When the literary sessions started and I saw how my students were taking a look at me every now and then when I started to participate, I realized my influence on them, and that I did made something different for these young men. Such joy, such renew self-confidence, all help me to go through difficulties, and bestow on my face a smile has been missing for a long time.

  Nadia F.Mohammed

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Awareness


Lately I was approached by an editor of Gilgamesh, an Iraqi magazine about Iraqi culture that is issued in English. We met in some cultural session in which she learned that I majored in English literature and thought she can make use of my skills and knowledge of English and literature. She asked me to write about Iraq's recent production in art and literature.

At that moment, I realized how ignorant I was in the culture of my country, and this was something not to be proud of actually. One of my friends, when I told him of her request, throwing some funny comments on the request, he reproached me emphasizing the fact that people abroad do admire Iraqi art and cultural activities and if I don't get that, then it is my own shame rather than something to be proud of. 


At the beginning I was not that happy with this, for I don't feel any affinity with what is written in Iraq, or with what I have already read of that literature. However, pondering a little bit about the matter, it appeared to me that am looking at the whole thing from a personal point of view, rather than applying my professional knowledge in literature on what is produced in Iraq. 

My detachment or abhorrence of Iraqi writings comes from two sources or happened for two reasons. The first one has to do with the historic period in which I grew up. I spent most of my childhood and adolescence living in a country that fools itself with extreme nationalism, waging war after another in the name of foolish patriotism only to make its people suffer all the calamities of poverty and insecurity. Since the beginning of 1980s till now, and Iraq lives continues insecurity whether on its frontiers or inside its territories; with this comes the economic crises that led people to violate all moral laws and turn our world to jungle where only the strongest live on the expense of the weak.

During all that time, almost thirty years I have heard the songs, and read the poems and writings of people who have sold their pens to the regime celebrating in foolish pride war, and the evil heroism of that regime, making the Iraqis the selected ones, god-send people (of course under the leadership of their president) to redeem the suffering of marginalized people!! Since I never believed in any cause that our politicians tried to advance on our minds, I never liked whatever produced to serve their propaganda, and that was the beginning of pushing aside Iraqi writings. 

The second reason comes from my stubborn spirit that tried to rebel against all traditions that restricted our imaginations and our potentials. Most of what is produced in Iraq doesn't come to my taste, which is, I think, a subconscious resistance to have myself attached to anything related to my culture. Of course every culture has its pitfalls, negative sides and definitely no there is no culture perfect enough for all, because it is the product of mankind who is already not perfect! But my own resistance and rebellion made me blind against everything that has Iraq label on it. 

However, when I was approached by that editor, when she expressed confidence in my own abilities as instructor and scholar of literature, I realized that even if I don't like what is written personally, I still need to know about it as a part of my profession; after all this is what I do when it comes to English and American literature. 

With this realization, I started recently my journey back to Iraqi writings. I am already familiar with some names which I never had the urge before to read what they write, but now I feel the need to know more about them and to reconnect with my culture through their writings.  

Nadia F. Mohammed