Gamal Al-Qassas – A scream

Qassas LE P&W June 2024

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Live Encounters Poetry & Writing June 2024.

A Scream, poems by Gamal Al-Qassas.

Translated from Arabic to English by Dr. Salwa Gouda.

A scream

We are the new wise ones
The new mad ones
We have kept the commandments well
We understand that fear is an unruly plant in the heart
That the note will remain blind
Waiting for the melody to provide
An escape for the spring
Beyond time
Beyond place.
What can we do??
Live with your epidemics
With your disasters
Nurture them as if deprived of our own sustenance
Under your oppression
Under the filth of your shoes
In the name of a life
We have never encountered face to face
The flags in the sewage pools
In your dirty lies
In your senseless wars
In your coffins in front of the museum.
We are the stone of chance
The stone of nothingness
We did not rebel to imprison the air
Or to confine water in the cup

We are humans
We have the right to complain
The right to scream
The right to hunger
Our mouths are always open
Always gaping
Always tired
Knowing how to bring hope
From the flutter of a bird
From a child’s smile.
Oh, guardians of the effeminate ruin
What do you intend to do with us
And yesterday
And tomorrow…
We are not your enemies
Your dawn has aged
Rusted in the fingers of time
Open the windows
Open the cells
Teach the thieves to knock on the doors
To leave something in the dish.

I don’t want you to feel sad

As you read this message
Take it easy
Speak freely about your inner hunger
About your new friends
There is a philosophy of pain
It always happens
It happens sometimes
That children are born in stray carts
That lovers go and do not return
It’s okay..
You can invent a secret gateway to the forest
In the thickets of your shirt
You can slap the world on its cheek
As you wake up from your sleep like a blind cat
But please..
Speak sweetly about your past
How trivial and gentle it was
And that you found nothing to fight for
Exactly like all my treacherous children.

© Gamal Al-Qassas

Gamal Al-Qassas (1950) is an Egyptian poet and journalist. He has published nearly fourteen poetry collections, the most recent of which is “There was Music Here,” published in 2023. Selections of his poems have been translated into English, Arabic, and Greek. He also won the Cavafy International Prize in Poetry in 1998. Furthermore, he is considered one of the most important founders of the “Illumination 77” poetry group in the 1970s.

Dr. Salwa Gouda is an Egyptian literary translator, critic, and academic at the English Language and Literature Department at Ain-Shams University. She holds a PhD in English literature and criticism. She received her education at Ain-Shams University and California State University in San Bernardino. She has published several academic books, including “Lectures in English Poetry, and “Introduction to Modern Literary Criticism” and others. She has also contributed to the translation of “The Arab Encyclopedia for Pioneers,” which includes poets and their poetry, philosophers, historians, and men of letters, under the supervision of UNESCO. Additionally, her poetry translations have been published in various international magazines.

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