‘As You Wish’

Egyptian Poet Constructs His Own Time Dimension
Book Cover

In his latest book of poetry, titled “Ma ba dalak, “ (As you wish) renowned Egyptian poet Amin Haddad does exactly that.

Published in December 2020 by Dar Al-Shorouk publishing house, due to COVID-19 restrictions, it took him a few months to launch the book signing along with a poetry and music evening  that was held on April 2021.

‘As You Wish’ is Haddad’s seventh book of poetry and the first where he explores a different voice, as he has dedicated a whole section to poetry written in classical Arabic.

“When I chose to write vernacular poetry, I chose to have a specific voice, however, trying classical Arabic opens up new worlds, voices as well as attitudes for me as it is the voice of a lot of our heritage, the language of Quran, and of poets like Al Motanabi and Mahmoud Darwish, “ explained Amin Haddad.

Born in 1958, Hadddad deviates from the nostalgic note that is used by many poets of his generation.

In all his books, he usually waltzes between classical and vernacular poetic language on the tempo of time. Time is of essence to Amin Haddad. He neither laments the past nor curses the present. He toys with moments that he manages to set free from both worlds and builds his own time line.

In the introduction to his latest book, and for the first time, he addresses the reader as he reveals a semi biographical note about himself in classical Arabic. “I introduce myself to you and to whoever it may concern, maybe you can help me answer my question: Why am I here and why are you here?

He eloquently reveals his background, and childhood and his relationship with his father, the vernacular poetry pillar, Fouad Haddad, by stating his full name:

“My name is Amin Fouad Selim Amin Hanna Eid Haddad, a full name that reveals the religion of my grandparents, their pan Arabism and the changes in their characters. When I was an infant, they stole our father for five years and I visited him as a child in the Al-Wahat detention.”

In the first section of the book, written in vernacular poetic format, Haddad invites us to take a walk with him. In his poem titled Mashaweer, (Errands) he practices his time game when he walks down memory lane and revisits the places where he used to live and run errands. How the memory   collects, complies, and selects” the moments is very interesting.  And how such memory is the magic wand that gives emotional layers that enriches the places we visit along the long route of life.

Adopting the same line of thought, in his poem titled “Men Fadlak,” (If you please), he puts life in a nutshell:

و احنا

حنعيش فى الدنيا دقايق

يتغير حوالينا المشهد مليون مرة و نموت

As for us,

We have moments to live in this world

in which the scenes change a million times

 and then we die.

But reflecting on life does not stop Haddad from urging the reader to interact with life and actually make one’s own version of it. In his poem Horeya, (Freedom) he wisely elaborates on the role of poets and creativity in general.

حتة صمت فى طرف العالم

مستنية كلامك يملاها

بثمانية و عشرين حرف اعمل ما بدالك

وافهم إن ماحدش ينفع يكتب شعرك فى الدنيا بدالك

There is a quiet place at the edge of the world

Waiting for your words to fill

With 28 letters, do what you wish

And know that nobody else in this world can write your poems instead of you

As for his classical poetry section of the book, it seems to adopt the same line of thought.  The poet is urging the reader to perform the act of resilience and resistance and to enhance the eternal beauty of life and all the possibilities that it keeps unfolding for us as long as we live and explore.

In the last poem he directly addresses the reader and urges them to “plant life”.

فلتؤمنوا بشىء صغير

فإن زهدتم فى الشىء , فلتؤمنوا بالمعنى......

 

و هناك عيون ترفض الدمع و ترفض المرثية

وهناك رجل جاء من أقصى المدينة يسعى  ليحضر الأمسية

Believe in something small then,

If you abstain from it, then believe in the meaning...

And there are eyes that reject tears and reject the epitaph

And there is a man who came from the farthest part of the city seeking to attend the evening