Culture, Politics

From a poem by Adonis (Ali Ahmad Said), who is one of the front-runners for this year’s Nobel Prize in literature:

The Flood /2

Go, pigeon, go.<br /> We do not want you to return.<br /> They have surrendered their flesh to the rocks,<br /> and I &#8211; here I am<br /> sliding towards the deepest point,<br /> entangled in the Ark&#8217;s sails.<br /> Our flood is a planet<br /> that does not revolve,<br /> ravaging and ancient &#8211;<br /> In it we might scent<br /> the god of buried centuries.<br /> So, go, pigeon, go.<br /> We do not want you to return.

Via Moorish Girl, who says:

Adonis is not as popular as Mahmoud Darwish in the Arab world, but he’s still widely read and respected. Here’s my problem. While I think that Adonis is deserving, I’m irked about reports that the choice is motivated by desires to appease Arab audiences after the Iraq war. Adonis should win on the strength of his work, not because the time is right.

I really don’t know anything about Arab poetry, but I do know that, as with Russian poetry, it is taken much more seriously than we take poetry here in the U.S. One professor told me that if you want to understand politics in the Middle East, you must read the poetry. So I thought that even if Adonis doesn’t win, here is a chance to get better acquainted with at least one, or two, Arab poets. There is no doubt about the politics of this poem, which is probably why the Nobel Academy prefers Adonis to Darwish… Personally, I think after last year’s horrible choice, they can only do better.

UPDATE: Moorish Girl reports that award went to JM Coetzee.