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Live Encounters Arab Poets in Translation August 2023
The first woman, poems by Ali Al-Shalah.
The first woman
The first woman in my life
Was not a neighbor in a house
Nor a classmate
Not an actor in imagination
Nor a heroine in a novel
Nor a hermit in a temple
Nor a picture on a wall
Nor a statue in a garden
The first woman in my life is the one who has not come yet
I am afraid she will not come
Thus, the femininity of the world remains incomplete.
The desert washes its sand with the wind
No sign of tracing
And you come back/forth, forth/back
You cannot read sand properly
And he lies silently
Sand is a history of repetition
No door to start sand
Sand is the disappearance of those who pass by, and a sign for passers-by
Sand is the origin of beginners, and they are hungry by it and for it
Sand is the origin of proliferation at times, and at other times, it is a deficiency
Is it stated in the sand that sand is more dangerous than others?
Sand enters weakly into another
But covers the tops of its wounds
So carrying its death at its end
Sand is not Sufism…
And even if the seer saw the visions of al-Hallaj in it!
Life is a lie of its occupants
(Reading for confusion)
I am not certain because you are not certain
A vessel of knowledge whose countenance is anxiety desiring to increase
The eye is an anxious gateway to a hungry heart
The soul is a well of mistakes necessary for Humanization
Humanization breeds mistakes
There is no life for those who do not perceive its chaos
And there is no identical repetition except with death!
We are the beginning of our own and his descendants
We are the ones whom we deny
And the trees of meaning that emanate from within it!
Life is a lie of its occupants
And death is the bitterness of discovery
A body that takes hold of a body and throws it into the past
To discover the chemistry of time!
If time could be saved,
We spared hours for those who dwelt in the sanctuary
And opened a horizon for them in the previous future
We are a past looking for a future to pass it on
Our limbs are time
And our bodies are other times
We are a past that does not pass
And a future that does not come.
© Ali Al-Shalah
Ali Al-Shalah (1965) born in Babylon, Iraq. He obtained a BA in Literature from College of Arts, University of Baghdad, 1987 and MA in Modern Literature, Yarmouk University, Jordan, 1996. He also obtained PhD in Philosophy and History, University of Bern, Switzerland, 2007. He has published five poetry collections and five books on criticism. He was the Founder and President of many cultural institutions, events and festivals including the following: The Founder and President of the Swiss Arab Cultural Center in 1995 and Al-Mutanabbi International Cultural Festival / Switzerland 2000, President of Babel House for Cultures, Arts and Media, with two branches in Baghdad and Babylon, 2003, Founder and President of the Babylon Festival for International Cultures and Arts 2010, Chairman of the Culture and Media Committee in the Iraqi Parliament 2010 and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and President of the Iraqi Media Network 2014-2018.