It’s Friday once again. I am glad to be joining the Poetry Friday community hosted this week by the Wandering Wildebeest herself, Irene Latham of Live Your Poem.
Our current reading theme is quite timely given recent world events.
As I read more literature about war and conflict, I am consumed by an ever-increasing sense of despair, wondering whether it is part of human nature to fight and maim and destroy each other. Yet at the same time, there is also a lightness of being brought about by glimpses of unexpected acts of kindness, gestures of goodwill, moments of blinding joy allowing the human spirit to triumph against the deafening roar of guns and bombs.
I had a chance to visit the Mauthausen Concentration Camp in Austria several years back. And amidst the smell of burnt ashes that seemed to be part of the very air I breathed while I was there, I chanced upon words on the wall: verses that attempt to make meaning of it all. And I wanted to share it with you Poetry Friday friends.
And this one…
The Space Between Our Footsteps edited by Naomi Shihab Nye
I have not finished reading this book yet, but I wanted to share its beauty with you, dear friends. Naomi Shihab Nye shared in her beautiful Introduction what makes this book special:
With writers and artists from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, our book has tried to represent the wide, delicious feast. In no way does it pretend to be comprehensive – it’s neither the “whole garden” nor “the whole meal.”
While some who like to classify might describe Middle Eastern poetry as being heavily embellished or romanticized and Middle Eastern art as being primarily abstract, this book hopes to extend that notion. Subjects include an immense affection for childhood and children, a tender closeness to family, a longing for early, more innocent days, a passion for one’s homeland, grief over conditions of exile (a situation too common through the centuries to many Middle Easterners), a reverent regard for the natural world, and a love for one another and for daily life. Do any of these concerns sound alien to us?
More than anything, the poems in this collection show how interwoven our lives are with all the things that we value in common, and the precious intangibles that we hold close to our hearts. I selected a poem that I found to be particularly striking as it pierced my consciousness, and reminded me of the war that is ongoing right here, right now, and what the world is presently doing in response to it. As per usual, I took a photo of the page and edited it using an iPhone app. I hope it moves you as much as it did me.