Adonis Diaries

Archive for November 5th, 2008

Poetry for the newer generations: A suggestion (November 6, 2008)

I am no poet by any stretch of the imagination from a professional perspective.

Actually, I never made the least effort to learn the techniques or the nomenclature of poem writing. Whatever that I might have learned in poetry resemble writing prose without knowing what prose means.

Thus, my suggestion is plain candid; it is very probable that the long history of poets and poem writing has generated schools that suggested the same idea, or close, without me comprehending the premises of the schools.

My idea is a scream, to be able to read a poem that is comprehensible enough to form at least an idea of the subject matter, to form a beginning of some sense in the emotions.

In yesteryear, schools taught Latin, Greek and mythologies of various civilizations.  If this is the case in some schools, then this article is not intended for their graduates, at least the brightest of them.  Are you not tired of reading notes for every verse that are longer than the whole poem?

My suggestion is that poets stop throwing around symbols, symbolic meanings, and mythological names, but to do their due diligence or homework explaining, in poetical verses, the story behind each name and symbol.

Maybe new imagery would be created, new interpretations would be offered that are not conforming to the traditional understanding, or for the poet’s benefit, readers would catch a glimpse of his philosophy on the mysteries of life, the Universe, beauty, freedom, liberty, human rights, and a long series of abstract concepts.

Mythologies were, long time ago, based on reality and constituted classes of philosophies in every civilization; and knowing the stories behind each of the mythological characters would enrich greatly the education of the bland newer generations.

This cultural process would be enhanced if the stories are written in genuine poetical verses that can be memorized as songs that honor the spirit of human kind through time immemorial.

In a previous essay on “Omar Khayyam and Hafiz” https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/11/03/persian-poets/ I had this flash, a conjecture, of how the  process of writing poetry begins to take flesh and bones and which is as follow:

1. once a poet start writing then abstract notions replaces gradually real life constraints and inadequacies and

2. when the poet realizes that he is indeed talking in abstraction then he explodes and soars into incomprehensible symbolism and mythological meanings originated in the antiquities; the sort of odes that hard neck poets appreciate.

And what are the interests of the general public in all that?

Just leave it to the specialists to explain the meaning and beauty of the imagery and symbolism.

I don’t think that my conjecture is devoid of evidences.

Take any poet and you realize that his early poems and the last ones are fraught with abstractions.

In between, a few poets volunteer to express their true feeling of their limitations, confusion, and inadequacy; well, the verses and words are clear and unambiguous enough to feel that their emotions are real and genuine.

Why these poets had to revert to abstraction later on?  Is it because criticisms based on intimate feeling and experiences become very touchy to continue in that vein?  Most probably, in their old age, poets are terribly hurt of their degeneracy and degradation and are humiliated to share with others their conditions.

In every language the same imagery and selected “poetic” words recurs indefinitely.  You finally realize that one good poem is representative of the spirit and poetical aspiration of a whole civilization; you read one poem in one style then you feel that you read them all.  Then you are glad that you can read several languages so that you may compare the richness in imagery.

The genuine poets are those that can create new imagery that reflect the state of their deeper emotions and feelings.

The Japanese poet Basho (1664-94) wrote:

“Write your poem in a single breath

As you are felling a tree

As the Samurai rushes toward his tough adversary

As you slice a water melon with a sharp knife

As you crunch into a juicy fruit

All the verses are but a vast mockery

Don’t try to walk the pathways of the wise

Discover what the wise person was seeking

Let me summarize my suggestion:

Poets and writers:

Write about your own feelings in a single breath. The editing has its own time, pace, and process: As long as you have the strength Not to alter the initial impulses that drove you to write breathlessly.

If this is very hard, then at least do your due diligence to explain the stories behind the symbolism in clear and poetic verses that sing to our soul, the way the language in your own culture sings to your soul.

“The path of the bees” by Rami Ellike, (November 5, 2008)

This a partial autobiography of a 35-year old Lebanese man who underwent major personal changes from tight religious upbringing and as an active member of Hezbollah throughout his youth to an independent minded and socially opened spirit to all the caste structure in Lebanon.

He studied at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and was a graduate student at a university in Florida . He claims that he acquiring the culture and accent of the USA.

Rami settling down in Lebanon to teach at AUB how to raise bees,as his father did for a living in the south.

This is not the mind and sensitivity of an ordinary man in Lebanon: he had the marks of becoming a successful political person through the most influential political party (Hezbollah) and the most popular activist among the students at AUB.

The tall and long-armed Rami could have benefited of many financial lures to accommodate any less revolutionary spirit, but he stood his grounds and even decided to quit Hezbollah when his moral and social openness would not conform to the strict claustrophobic caste rules and regulations governing the social and individual behaviors.

The Shiite Rami Ellike was born in Marjeyoun (a Christian dominated town) in south Lebanon in 1972.  At the age of 5 the family had to move to Nabatiyeh and settled in a Christian neighborhood.

Rami played with his Christian neighboring kids; he then was quickly indoctrinated in the spirit of resistance to the Israeli enemy, still occupying a major trip in south Lebanon. He became highly religious and forced strict religious rules of behavior on the members of his family, particularly his mother who didn’t wear the veil outside the house. The other members of the family were lenient and open-minded toward the other religious sects.

Rami Ellike was kicked out of two private schools for lawless conducts and activities meant to imposing an ideology of resistance and obeisance to the Shiaa “shariaa” or jurisprudence.

By the age of 15, Rami was trained to using arms and sitting vigils in sites fronting the Israeli lines within Lebanon. To make ends meat, Rami organized tourist trips to Syria. In Damascus he got familiar with the joy corners and used to contract out “marriage of pleasure” in order to be initiated to sexual intercourse; these “marriage of pleasure” contracts are for short duration and with clear clauses of financial retribution just to have legal (halal) intercourse according to some religious “fatwa” schemes in the Shiaa sect.

Ellike witnessed the armed struggles between the two Shiaa factions of Amal (supported by the Syrian regime) and Hezbollah (obeying the Khomeini Mullahs of Iran).  These two factions were jockeying for power control in many Lebanese regions with Shiaa concentrations. Thus, Rami spent two years in Dahiya, (a new suburb in south Beirut) within the Hezbollah center and participating in political and demonstration activities.

He register at the AUB for a degree in economics, and followed a dual degree in Law at the Lebanese University. Rami Ellike was an excellent student in all his course works.  Then between 1992 and 1994, Rami got heavily involved in organizing the Hezbollah’s cell at AUB and succeeded into establishing Hezbollah as the major political party in the university; though in actuality only half a dozen of its members were true activists.

During these years, Hezbollah party, lead by Rami, forced the administration to releasing files and registering students with grants and changing the climate of open sexual encounters within the university premises and basically colliding head on with the AUB administration and its board council located in New York.

The year 1994 was a culmination in students’ activities at AUB; Rami lead an uprising against increases in students’ tuition and united all parties of various affiliations and sects in demonstrations and steadfast resistance against the pressures of the Syrian mandate and internal security forces. The university finally bowed down temporary.

The Iranian Embassy attempted to lure Ellike to joining its activities and invited him for a week trip to Iran. The wowing process by Hob Allah, a prominent member in the Iranian Embassy, did not succeed. On graduating, Rami had collected wide connections and communication with the highest ranking personalities in government as well as Hezbollah. (I will relegate to the note his pieces of intelligence because they require some explanations and development).

Ellike felt that he has changed. The climate of openness at the university and its social environment contrasted sharply with the claustrophobic Hezbollah customs and organization and Ellike was positively affected.  Ellike went on a long trip, solo and without a tent, and visited regions of Lebanon that he never set foot in and conversed with people of other sects.

It was about time to resign from the ranks of Hezbollah and forgo all the privileges that he could benefit.  Rami founded a social club and visited universities to talk with students to join it.  He experienced an untenable love affair with a Christian student at AUB that drove him years later into a coma and days of hospitalization.

The next step in Ellike’s life change leads him to Florida to the University in Gainesville for graduate studies in economic development.  He returned to Lebanon after the first semester to await the decision of the university in Florida for offering him a study grant.

In this summer of 1999, Ellike experienced the tacit frustrations of the citizens in the south of the Syrian mandate and its excisions on the daily survival of the Lebanese people. For a year Rami was active within the social club and then he decided to tour Lebanon on foot for 8 days carrying the Lebanese flag and haranguing the people to express openly their refusal of the Syrian presence. 

Rami was back to Florida with a grant that covered all his expenses and enjoyed great times and finished his “General Exam” before embarking on writing his dissertation.  During his stay in Florida, Rami continued his study and research on raising bees and attended a symposium in South Africa in topics focused on bees.  The FBI got in touch with Ellike and tried to recruit him after the September 11, 2002 attacks on the Twin Towers.  Ellike would not cooperate.

In the summer of 2002, Ellike was totally “Americanized” in accent, behavior and general outlook to civilization.  When he returned to the USA to finish writing his dissertation on the Lebanese economical development he was lawlessly retained at New York Kennedy’s airport and then detained for hours and humiliated without being offered any reasons or excuses for these offensive attitudes and then he was shipped back on the same Egyptian plane back to Cairo.  In Cairo, Ellike was investigated by the security services and again by the Lebanese security services when he finally landed in Beirut.

For two weeks Rami refrained from meeting with his family and kept secluded at his brother’s apartment.

He didn’t divulged to his family or his friends the fact that he was expelled under duress for his sudden return to Lebanon: his stated reason was his need to gather further data for his dissertation.  Ellike later learned that he was punished because the FBI was under the definite impression that Rami “mocked the FBI overtures” to him.

Ellike learned that his grant was offered to someone else and he worked hard to earn a living and cover the expenses of resuming his dissertation and the additional cost of staying a registered student from overseas.  He managed to submit his dissertation through electronic means of internet and email because the administration at the university in Gainesville decided to alter the regulations for his personal presence in order to obtain his PhD diploma.

Since 2003 ,Rami Ellike has been practicing law and teaching courses at AUB on bees and better techniques for producing honey.  He is presently getting to leave for the Hajj in Mecca.

Note:  Hezbollah (the Party of God) was created by the Khomeini regime of Iran around 1982 and was guided, financed, trained and structured by the new revolutionary theocratic Iranian regime.  The successive General Secretaries of Hezbollah are clerics who studied in Qom and enjoy the full recognition of the current “Supreme Guide” of the Iranian revolution Khamenie.

The theocratic organizational structure is founded on the concept of “Wilayat Al Fakeeh” (the reign of the supreme theologian in jurisprudence in the Shiaa sect). The concept is that the supreme Fakeeh is a descended of Ali’s family and his orders and “fatwas” cannot be revoked by any one else of Fakeehs.  It is basically a theocratic dictatorship philosophy.

Hezbollah of Lebanon is a real army and is trained to fulfill both tasks as a regular army and a guerrilla force.  It is the only resistance force, throughout the current history of the Israeli-Arab conflict, to have checked the offensive incursions of the Israeli army: Hezbollah had proved its potentials in the year 2000 when Israel withdrew unilaterally from south Lebanon without any pre-conditions and during the war in July 2006 that lasted 33 days without any support from any Arabic States.

In 1998, Rami Ellik stated that a member in the Iranian Embassy told him that Iran has the power to give orders to the General Secretary and that the security apparatchik in Hezbollah is dominated by the Iranian security branch, which is in turn the most influential branch in Hezbollah.

At that period, before Hezbollah was forced to get immersed in the internal political system of Lebanon, the highest officials in the organization had no practical impact on decisions.  I guess that the general climate at that period was not encouraging for independent minded members as Rami Ellike.


adonis49

adonis49

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