A Poem For Saturday


A 20-year-old Bahraini student and poet named Ayat al-Qurmezi has been detained since March and was sentenced this week to one year in prison. From her poem "Khalifa":

Hear me:
You, the elder,
the "good man", who "safeguards justice"
(so you have always declared),

if I were to make excuses for you,
I, for you,
for the things you have done,
I would only look the fool,
for you would continue in your ways,
and murder us as "traitors".

The full poem is here. Sophia Jones lists other poets punished in the Middle East:

Waleed Mohammad al Rumaishi had his tongue cut out after reciting poetry in support of embattled Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh. In 2009, civil servant and poet Moneer Said Hanna wrote a five-lined satirical poem about former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and is now serving a three year sentence, as well as paying a fine of over $16,000. Syrian poet, Faraj Bayrakdar, now fuels the revolution from Sweden after enduring over 13 years of torture in prison where he would carve pens from wood splinters and make ink from tea leaves in order to write poetry.

Robert Frost said that poetry is what gets lost in translation, but for Ayat al-Qurmezi and her fellow dissident poets, the message is quite clear.

(Image from "Art of Innovation,” a series by Geliographic, a studio based in Moscow via Nag On The Lake)