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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Experimenting with Poetry

Couple of days ago, I was tired, depressed and felt like exploding. Nothing particular was happening, but sometimes when the mind is too tired to play games of distraction, to push away thoughts of frustration, I find myself sinking again in that reality I am trying my best to ignore. I find myself too exhausted to keep myself busy from thinking where I am heading, and how tomorrow is going to be.

At such times, when inner pain becomes unbearable and the scream inside become too intense to mute, I try to take it out in words, and write it down in a poem. This time, this came along:
A scream too loud to be heard
By a noisy world, occupied somewhere else,
Repressed by a tear struggling invisibly to fall,
Unnoticed by surrounding multitudes!
Words fail to evolve, phrases of alien language;
Minutes and hours elapse in futile emptiness.
And thus days, months or even years pass by
Shouting in silence of mysterious pain.

I liked it; I liked the elliptic phrases and the poet in me, who is pushing her way hard to emerge, felt proud. However, when I showed this poem to my friend, she didn't sound to be so happy about. Since she knew what it was all about, as she had good idea what was troubling me, most of it at least, she knew where my pain came from, and why this scream. She reproached me for always writing about the same theme with different words.
With such criticism, the poet in me felt mad, not at my friend as much as at that self-pity which I always let it take the best in me. She was right in her view: I always take this pain, and the ache inside as my theme that it sounds like the only thing I can write about. This is not how I want it to be, for I know that poetry can be created from wide range of feelings and wider range of thoughts. I realized then that if I ever wanted to be a poet, then I had to let my words experiment with different experiences, different images and different worlds. The pain that dominated my writings before will never disappear; it is there in me, eating my happiness away when I am too exhausted to resist, or maneuver. Yet, I need to find different channels for it, and different domains.
The result of this resolution, if it is such, the following poem I just thought of. It is about a strange woman I met in the bus that took me from the gate of the prosperity camp to the US embassy.

Yesterday, in my way toward New World, taking the first stressing steps of paper work
I found it again that I had magnet for weirdoes to jump in-
To my life and fill it maybe with more action that I have already on.
In a crowded bus, a middle-aged woman told me next her to sit
And I complied…
Dragging my large square purse, my books, and my heavy coat…
With excitement clumsy I walked, toward the seat she wanted me to sit on
Heavily dressed, heavily burdened and heavily weighted, I tried the chair to occupy
But mess I made:
Papers fell around, purse loose on the ground; I planted my elbow against the woman's side
She expressed her annoyance but I tried to smile: nothing would ruin this excitement,
Nothing would have me frown.
A Lebanese living in Iraq she was, having all her kids abroad.
A son she had, as she kept on telling me, working engineer in the wealthiest city of the gulf
He was in Dubai and now searching for a bride…
Tired of fooling around with "easy" girls, she went on, time to have a family around…
That was my cue to shut my interest in humanity down
No more weird stories burdening my brain, no more aches for the mind,
It had to stop, I told myself, and with half smile, half bored look
I turned my face to other side.

Nadia F. Mohammed


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Workshop and Poem: Blue Dairy

Yesterday I attended a poetry workshop with some of my students with the movie maker and poet Roland Legiardi Laura, the director of To Be Heard movie. It was one of these times that I felt alive, and there is nothing in this world could defeat me.
Roland asked the entire attendants to grab a piece of paper and a pen and start writing, just like what he was doing in the movie with the high school students. We all did what he asked us to do; for me such an exercise was the utmost joy. I was simply to grab a paper and pen and start writing; no subjects were wanted, nor there was lack of words. I had many in my mind and all I had to do was to decide on which I would focus at that moment.

I have fascination for books, old books; dairies left on the shelves, and tell a story of forgotten past. When it happens that I re-arrange my desk or bookshelves, and then my hand lies accidently on something I have forgotten it is there, I feel excited to see parts, images or words of what I used to be.

I had a blue notebook that I turned into a diary some years ago. It carried between its leaves some of my old ramblings about life, family, college and other things. When I tried to read some of its pages once, I was scared to know that some of my troubles today have been always troubles to me even back then, when I was in my twenties and a whole lifetime was still ahead of me. I whined about them and still I do. I didn't like that. The realization that struck me then that I was entangled in the same web I was in for many years now; that I was not brave or determined enough to let go, and live the present; that I never nourished hope, nor I thought of better life, as if I was in love with my own sadness, with that self-pity that filled these old pages and still feed on the new ones! I didn't dare to read more, but the realization kept pressing its truth on me: that I had tendency to be sad and I kept myself well in this atmosphere.

In yesterday's workshop, while thinking of what subject I should try, I remembered this small incident, and how deep it influenced me. Thus, words started flowing to portray my wondering at the moment I discovered this diary.

Cleaning the desk of useless papers,
Accumulating in heaps over my desk,
I find a drawer at the bottom,
Stuck, resisting my invading hands
With persistence, I conquered its contents,
To find a book covered with dust.
For how long it has been there? I wondered;
The dust speaks of years of neglect.
Will I dare disturbing its peace?
Will I disturb the silence of its yellow leaves?
Can I share their hidden secrets?
Would they allow me to shake off their isolation?
I wanted to remove the old grains
To let the blue shine again
But my hands stopped at the grey cover
I got scared ...

Nadia F. Mohammed