Tuesday, July 06, 2010


Now that it's summer and I'm attempting to write more regularly, I'm returning to some post seeds that I didn't feel I could do justice to during the year. Of course, while this will be posted during the day, I'm actually up at 2 AM writing it, so I hope it doesn't suck too badly.

So awhile back there was this story about Hissa Hilal.

Now, of course, as an English teacher, I'm like "yay poetry!" first of all. And then my mind starts to wander from that sort of knee-jerk smiling.

Somehow I doubt that western news suppliers would have considered this distribution-worthy if her poetry hadn't gone not only against the dominant culture around her but also WITH the dominant culture that WE live in.

This was a follow-up. I can't even find that it says who actually WON the competition. Nor do either of the articles give the full text of any of her poetry (well, it'd have to be translated, obviously) - not even a link.

What is her outfit called? Is it a burkha (first article) or niqab (second)?

How much does her choice to wear that support or invalidate her words? I mean, if she wasn't covered, there's no WAY she would've been on a TV program like that. But then, how much should we demand actions that match one's words?

Then again, does her outfit remove distraction? Can we hear her more clearly because we can't really see her? When was the last time an honest-to-goodness UGLY woman made it to the finals on American Idol? And not just Hollywood-ugly like Janeane Garofalo, but ordinary, with acne or a double chin or snaggly teeth or something?

I don't have any easy answers. I did manage to scrounge up a couple of translations, such as this one, from a commenter on arablit.wordpress.com -

I have seen chaos created
by ad hoc subversive fatwas
at a time when what is lawful
is condemned as unlawful

When I reveal these facts
a savage beast emerges
from his hidden den
vicious in voice,
barbaric, angry and blind
wearing death as a robe
cinched with a belt (of bombs).

He preaches from a platform
of official authority
terrorizing everyone
targetting those who would seek peace;

the voice of courage had fled for cover
Truth has been cornered and gagged,
self-preservation prevents us
from speaking out.

Maybe sometimes it's enough just to keep questioning.

Image thanks to http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/worldnews/


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