Oct 31, 2015

من الذي يُحِبُكَ؟



من الذي يُحِبُكَ؟
من؟
في كُلِّ نهارٍ تستديرُ روحهُ باتجاهك
كزهورِ عبّادِ الشمس حين تستديرُ لآلِهتها، مخلصةً، خاشعة الدعاء

من الذي يُحِبُكَ؟
من؟
يَرفَعُ بِكَ إلى أعلى رفٍ من رفوفِ كيانهِ
حيث لا يصل إليكَ ولا يمسسكَ أحد

من الذي يُحِبُكَ؟
من الذي تتراكض دقاتُ قلبهِ
مع نغماتِ خطواتك المُتعبة
يدرسُ حتى يحفظ عن غيبٍ رهف مشاعرك

من الذي يُحِبُكَ؟
من؟ حتى في حضورك
يبقى واقفاً بانتظارك
يَضُمُّ صُوَرُكَ كما يُضَمُّ الطفل الرضيع

من الذي يُحِبُكَ؟
من يَعرِفُ اللّمحة المترددة، اللائمة في عينيك  
يسمعُ ما لا تقولهُ، يَثِقُ بِتَهوّرِكَ كما في رَوِيَّتُك


من الذي يُحِبُكَ؟





Who loves you?


Who loves you?
who,
on cold dreary mornings turns towards you
like sun flowers turn to their golden God, faithful, sincere

Who loves you?
who,
places you on the very top shelve of their being
where no one can touch or reach you?

Who loves you?
who’s heart
quickens to the sound of your tired steps
studies and learns your fragility by heart

Who loves you?
who (even in your presence)
remains, waiting for you
holds the thought of you like a delicate new born

Who loves you?
who understands
the uncertain swift turning and lowering of your eyes
trusts your irrationality, hears in you the unsaid

Who loves you?






Oct 30, 2015

ناداني حبيبتي


ناداني حبيبتي..
أرخت يدٌ قاسية قبضتها عن قلبي
تكسّر الجليد القارس تحت أقدامي
تبدد الظِّل الذي طالما طاردني

ناداني حبيبتي..
طفلة سجينة خلف قضبان المرأة تبسّمت
استدار مفتاح صدئ في القفل العتيق المهترئ
دفء يشبه دفء الشمس وطاقتها أنار في صدري

ناداني حبيبتي..
عصفورٌ حبيس جريح انتفض
تغيرت ألواني، تبدلت فصولي
نبتت في عِزِّ شتائي أزهار

ناداني حبيبتي
لا أذكر سوى أنه ناداني

حبيبتي 

He called me Darling!



He called me darling,
a tight fist smothering my heart loosens
the ice under my feet breaks
shadows lurking around me vanish

He called me darling,
a child imprisoned by the woman smiles
a rusty key turns the laden locked door
something as warm, as bright as the sun rises within me

He called me darling
a caged injured bird flutters
my colours deepen, my seasons change
a young sapling grows in my hard bitter winter
  
He called me darling

I forget the rest.


How much influence does the weather have on artists?


In her diary, Sylvia Plath wrote on the 7th of July 1950: “It is raining. I am tempted to write a poem. But I remember what it said on one rejection slip: After a heavy rainfall, poems titled RAIN pour in from across the nation”.

If I try to reference each time a poet, a writer, a painter, a composer, or a photographer were driven by the weather towards their pen, their brush or their instrument I could end up with a PhD thesis. Artists are tender sensitive beings, they are more human than uncreative humans thus are more effected, more influenced and stimulated by weather, they belong more to this earth, they feel more, they suffer more, they cry bitterly, they laugh hysterically, there is never an in between.
This doesn’t mean artists prefer fine weather, on the contrary, many find their emotions dulled by warmth and comfort, many prefer raging storms, flooding rain, wild winds.. the extreme can be calming, resembling the unrest always dwelling within them.  

Autumn - by Alexander Pushkin

October has arrived - the woods have tossed
Their final leaves from naked branches;
A breath of autumn chill - the road begins to freeze,
The stream still murmurs as it passes by the mill,

This is my time: I am not fond of spring;
The tiresome thaw, the stench, the mud - spring sickens me.
The blood ferments, and yearning binds the heart and mind..
With cruel winter I am better satisfied,






Oct 29, 2015

The thing about housework - the second shift


It’s not new; women and especially women feminists have been calling out for more than thirty years for the economic recognition of the second shift i.e. women coming home from a paid job to a second shift of unpaid work at home whether it was cleaning, cooking, ironing, caring for children, sick or old members of the family. Of course in some households the male partner helps out, and some jurisdictions such as Norway adopted a system where more paternal leaves were provided for the male partner in an attempt to divide care work more fairly, in the Netherlands there are more women working part-time than anywhere else in the world in an attempt to lighten the burden of paid and unpaid work that women shoulder.

But what about single mothers? They are the category of women who cannot benefit from the Norwegian system of allowing the father more time off, and they’re most probably not the category of women who can afford working a part time job.
The reason why house work has never really been perceived as real work is the lowliness of it; as soon as the kitchen is cleaned and tidied, as soon as clothes have been washed ironed and folded away, someone makes a sandwich, the stained school uniforms are thrown in the laundry basket and all needs to be done all over again. But what governments and economists fail to see is how time consuming, how physically exhausting and how indispensable house work is, there would be no tax payers if mothers did not rear and care for them.


The importance of recognizing house work and paying women for it, is not only for the benefit of women who hold paid day jobs, but for poor women in third world countries who are so desperate to feed their families, they leave their home countries, to work in foreign lands, taking care of other people’s children, cleaning other people’s toilets. If governments did reward those women for domestic work, they would be in their home countries, taking care of their own children, looking after their elderly, cleaning their own toilets and providing for themselves.



Oct 28, 2015

Man-made warmth


Sometimes I have to take matters into my own hands, so I walked to the British Heart Foundation charity shop; went straight to the men’s clothes section I browsed through winter jumpers and sweaters, I picked the largest, coziest looking one; greenish brown, knitted wool, old and worn out. It had a bit of orange paint on the bottom tip of the right sleeve, so I decided it belonged to a painter, a large man, his name is probably Keith! I’m not sure why Keith, but I have a feeling this is a jumper a Keith would wear. He’s an older man in his mid-sixties, tall, with broad shoulders and has a small belly, he’s interesting, he worked in education, now retired, loves to read, mostly about nature and history, sometimes when he’s bored he picks up a paint brush, attempts a still life or a simple landscape, some daffodils perhaps.  Although he pretends to miss warm weather like all Brits, he’s secretly excited when the weather is cold again, he likes woolly jumpers, this one was a Christmas gift from one of his children. He wore it a lot, he wore it and wore it, until it was fully his, every fiber, every stitch but his wife Sharon kept nagging at him “will you please stop wearing that scruffy shabby thing Keith, it’s served its purpose, done it’s time, exceeded its life expectancy, donate it to a charity if you can’t bear throwing it away”.

I take Keith’s old jumper home, I wear it, with nothing else, it’s warm and cozy like a tender embrace. 







Oct 27, 2015

Art saved my life


Last week I turned 35. I didn’t do anything special, I didn’t throw a party or go out for dinner, I spent my day calmly and quietly doing the things I enjoy; I worked on a painting, I walked to the town center to buy myself a chocolate cake then I devoured it! I had an interesting conversation with a homeless man.. but I mostly looked, I looked at people, I looked at their faces, their hands, their expressions, I tried to imagine who they were, what their journey in life has been like?
I looked at the simple beauty that was around me; a beautiful bent tree, a wise looking crow, the magnificent sky, the enchanting beauty of autumn, teaching me that it is okay to let go of dead things. I wanted so much for my joy to come from within me, I didn’t want to feel special because someone remembered to wish me a happy birthday or a bunch of friends fussed about me, I was determined that I already had everything I need inside me, I didn’t need anything externally.

I have come a long way..  I’ve struggled so long with depression and suffered so much with dark thoughts of hurting myself.. I truly have come a long way, through therapy and art I managed to pull through and this my 35th year was probably the first time I truly celebrated walking this earth without the need for anything, no fuss, no dinners or presents, not even a friend, just me feeling full, complete and  intact.


Oct 26, 2015

Can anything be original?.. I mean really original?



When I started doing my PhD many years ago at Warwick University, my supervisor told me something that stayed with me, he said that knowledge was a mountain, a mountain already formed by the myriad scholars, thinkers and researchers before me, there is nothing more I can add to this mountain but a tiny little spec of information on its pointy top. I confess I struggled with the notion of the originality of my thesis until I took on my supervisor’s "mountain of knowledge" theory; it helped me get unstuck and write.

Today, whenever I paint or write poetry, I know that I am painting or writing something inspired by a work of art I saw or something that has already been said. In fact, I believe that that’s the only way to actually create, anything.  I enjoy being inspired by other people’s work, I go to museums specifically for that purpose, and I read books in order to open those new spaces in my mind I didn’t know existed.

Elizabeth Gilbert said in an interview: “so many people ask me about originality, they come to me and say I would really like to write a book about so and so but I feel that it’s already been done before. I always tell them, yes! It has been done before, everything has already been done, but it hasn’t been done by you.”


Art gives birth to art, I am yet to see something or read something that is truly ground breaking, everything out there is an echo of something else, but it’s the flavor that the new creator adds to it that distinguishes it from the rest. The myth of originality can become a real hindrance to some artists, so it’s better to acknowledge that other works are out there for you to extend, expand and even improve. There are 7 billion people on this planet, i.e. there are 7 billion perspectives, and 7 billion realities, no two perspectives and no two realities are the same.






Oct 25, 2015

Is art madness?


Vincent Van Gogh said” I put my heart and soul into my work and have lost my mind in the process”.

Art, like a jealous, demanding, manipulative partner will not settle for anything less than all of us; all of our time, all of our attention and all of our soul. It is no wonder that so many artists live in isolation and prefer it to company and many confess that they feel lonelier in other people’s company than they do in their solitude. Charles Bukowski wrote: “If you're going to try, go all the way. Otherwise, don't even start. This could mean losing girlfriends, wives, relatives and maybe even your mind. It could mean not eating for three or four days. It could mean freezing on a park bench. It could mean jail. It could mean derision. It could mean mockery--isolation. Isolation is the gift. All the others are a test of your endurance, of how much you really want to do it”. 
The muse it seems will not be satisfied with less than full ownership of her artist; art can give the artist everything and rob the artist from everything.

For many long uninterrupted years
She was the friend and confidant of Art;
They walked together, heart communed with heart
In that sweet comradeship that so endears.
Her fondest hope, her sorrows and her fears
She told her mate; who would in turn impart
Important truths and secrets. But a dart,
Shot by that unskilled, mischevous boy, who peers
From ambush on us, struck one day in her breast,
And Love sprang forth to kiss away her tears.
She thought his brow shone with a wonderous grace;
But, when she turned to introduce her guest
To Art, behold, she found an empty place,
The goddess fled, with sad, averted face.


Ella Wheeler Cox




Oct 24, 2015

Brighten up your vagina!



Ideals of femininity, womanhood and beauty were pressed upon us from a dangerously young age, our families, the men we loved, the media and religion scrutinized us so much and for so long, that we took it upon ourselves to become our own greatest critics, we sniffed and analyzed every flaw until we’ve taught our own minds to work against us, turning our own eyes into two spies constantly following us and judging us with their vulture squints. Everywhere we turned there was some magic lotion promising to make us look ten years younger, because as women we aren’t allowed to age of course, breast enhancing bras are available for twelve year old girls, hair extensions, fake lashes, fake nails, fake breast fillets, a fake tan, a corset to make us look slimmer, five inch heels too make us look taller, and vaginal cream for darker skinned women promising to make their vaginas fairer! And the world is still baffled by why women can’t just relax and be themselves, why we’re not more genuine and authentic, why we struggle so much with self-image and suffer so much with low levels of confidence and self-esteem. Our bodies were never ours, the sacredness of our bodies, the meaning of our bodies were not measures decided by ourselves, and because our bodies were never ours we did not know how to be in our bodies, we only saw ourselves through other people's eyes.


Oct 23, 2015

So, what are words exactly?






The inspiring Dr. Maya Angelo said: “ words are things I’m convinced, you have to be careful what words you use and you must be careful what words you allow to be used in your home, someday we will be able to measure the power of words, I think they are things, they get on the walls, they get in your wall paper, in your rugs, in your upholstery, in your clothes and finally into you”

Many spiritual teachers lead us to believe that words don’t matter, they are mere sounds we humans make which have no real meaning except  in the context of our social conditioning. I was personally soothed by this perspective when I heard it being said by my favourite spiritual teacher Matt Kahn, especially after I was (as an immigrant) subjected to the racist: “why don’t you go back where you came from?” which in most developed societies is considered hate speech; according to Kahn, however, a hateful phrase such as that should not hurt my feelings at all, unless I was continually conditioned and completely saturated since childhood by social norms that had me believe that such words should and must hurt me. Therefore, no racist remark should in any way effect me more than the sound of a dog barking or a crow cawing! As much as I find this argument plausible I can’t get over the personal aspect of words, and if the situation was reversed, should I take “I Love you” said to me by someone I care for personally? My immediate answer is yes, but something deeper, my conscious perhaps almost whispers no! we are as beings in the end eternally separate  and alone.

As a poet and an aspiring writer I value words, I use words as therapy, I use them to feel and make others feel, words move and inspire me. No longer being of any religion but  interested in reading widely I found the old testament’s treatment of words intriguing; genesis: “In the beginning was the word, and the word is God and the word was with God”.

Although I recognize the harm of verbal abuse and take it very seriously, I can’t help but to have a place in me for Kahn’s theory. 


Oct 21, 2015

Dear Creativity, is self-doubt inevitable?



Sylvia Plath once wrote “the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt”

But why are so many artists riddled and hindered with self-doubt?

Most artists don’t perceive a clear distinction between themselves and their art. In fact many -although unconscious of the thought - genuinely believe that they are their art and their art is them. When a painter paints a picture, a poet writes a poem, a photographer snaps a photo, or a writer writes a book this creative endeavor is but an extension of the artist who produced it and an honest expression of their being, thus there exists for artists - who are tender and sensitive in nature - a huge risk of exhibiting that piece of work, as any praise or criticism of that work will be entirely received as praise and criticism towards themselves personally, and we all know that the wrong kind of praise can hurt just as much as criticism – in some cases even more than criticism - when it comes to those delicate and complex beings we call artists.
Art is personal; I once spoke to a talented painter who said to me that he only likes to sell his work to someone who will really love it, cherish it and appreciate it and give it the care and acknowledgment it deserves. Mohsin Hamid, author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist and Moth Smoke in a TV interview confessed that he hates it when people tell him they like one of his books more than the other and that to him this was the equivalent of criticizing his own children. Time and time again we hear artists refer to their work as their children; after all giving birth to a child is the ultimate act of creation, therefore, no wonder that artists can be crippled by a thoughtless or tactless word or opinion. There is no use in trying to convince artists to divorce themselves from their art but I have found that adopting the philosophy “You Are Just as Good as the Competition” quite empowering. You are as unique as only you can be, others may be unique in their own way, but you, you’re indispensable. 




Oct 20, 2015

is "I'm a single mother" the new power phrase?

When I read in a UK daily newspaper that divorced people and especially divorced women still in this day and age feel ashamed of the fact that they are divorced and that many of them prefer not to tell friends and acquaintances right away that they had ended their marriage and that it takes divorced women - especially - at least four years to get their lives back on track and for them to feel some normality in their lives again I was genuinely surprised! If I had read this about a conservative traditional religious country like the one I’m originally from (Kuwait) I would have easily believed it, but in a country as forward, as diverse and as liberal as the UK, I truly didn’t expect divorce to still constitute such a social stigma. However, in contrast to the above there is another small but evident social movement led by single mothers; I’ve noticed on many occasions whilst attending talks, seminars or even personal development courses women saying out loud that they are single mothers, but this statement was not spoken in a stigmatized, apologetic, disadvantaged manner, but in a manner that reinforces power, to prove strength, ambition, courage and endurance. When these women were asking questions or acquiring more information from seminar speakers or trainers they were starting their statements with “as a single mother I have a lot on my hands but..” or “as a single mother I need to be extra organized..” or “because I’m a single mother I always make sure that..” these women have a sense of pride in their single-motherhood they acknowledge their own strengths and sense of accomplishment and flaunt this not expecting sympathy or special treatment but demanding admiration and respect. As a divorced single mother myself I find this inspiring and empowering, it might not be a widely spread movement getting a lot of media attention, but a quiet assertive revolution for women.