With the movement gaining traction with events held across town inviting poets to strut their poetry on stage, it is now also spreading to Beirut. His idea of bringing aspiring poets together to publish their works and complement their poems with artists to illustrate them, has become Dubai’s cherished hub for poetry sharing and art collaboration.
Born in Toronto and raised in Dubai, Jamil studied Accounting and when he returned to Dubai, after 5 years in Canada, was progressing in his career as an Accountant. However he didn’t feel fulfilled and so decided to build on his passion for poetry to create something special in the region.
MOR : Why Poetry?
JA : My love for poetry came from music. I used to love learning the lyrics of songs to decipher the deeper meaning of what the artist was trying to say through their music. Often I would also memorize my favorite lyrics. During my time in at university in Halifax, I began experimenting with poetry and had sentences in my head that I started jotting down. One day I came across a flyer by Open Heart Forgery asking for poetry submissions for potential publishing, so I submitted my poem called ‘Social Judgements’. Soon after I found it published in a booklet.
MOR : How do you get to the mental place where you find it in you to write?
JA : I just drift off in a meditative state and words or lines appear in my mind. I could be driving or washing dishes, during these moments I get bite-sized inspirations that lead to a writing ‘flow-state’.
MOR : What do you say to people who don’t understand poetry as a mainstream medium?
JA : I think poetry went to bed and is waking up. Poetry needs to keep evolving as a form of expression and now with the internet, poetry is back in style.
MOR : How did you come up with the idea of Dubai Poetics?
JA : I was shy about my poetry and so devised a platform to solve a problem for myself and in turn many others who felt the same. The goal has been and still is to create a safe & empowering space for aspiring poets who are ready to be vulnerable by sharing their poetry. Today Dubai Poetics falls under the Poetryhood and I’m looking to spread it across the Middle East. That is why Beirut Poetics has launched in January 2018 and once that is somewhat established I look forward to starting Amman Poetics…
MOR : What happens during ‘Poetry Nights’?
JA : Our “Poetry Night” is a spoken word poetry event where poetry lovers come to experience live poetry performances from our featured artists. It’s fun, laid-back and full of honest poetry where you can mingle with other like-minded people.
MOR : Tell me about the Poetry & Writing workshops, can anyone join?
JA : Yes, it is open to anyone with a written text they’d like to share with a private group. At our Poetry & Writing workshops an established poet/writer moderates the workshop and a discussion ensues about the text that has been shared in order for the writer to see how a group that loves literature perceives the given text.
We also host Spoken Word Performance workshops teaching poets how to deliver their poetry effectively on the stage and always create an official Poetry Night event afterwards for participants to test what they’ve learned in front of a real audience.
MOR : What advice do you have for aspiring poets?
JA : Write what you’d like to write about and feel fulfilled with it. Don’t mind about what the poem is going to achieve, it should be principally for yourself. The recognition of others should come as a bonus. However, on the technical side, it is important to listen and learn from people who have perfected the craft. Also, please do not be a self-proclaimed poet and rather instead be recognized as a poet by the public, let THEM call you a poet! (To elaborate on this I highly recommend reading my blog post “There is no I in Poet”).
MOR : Can you tell me more about the visual arts aspect of the initiative?
JA : We have built a network of awesome visual artists whom I forward submitted poems to every month and they bring them to visual life with their imaginative and technical expertise.
MOR : Where do you go from here?
We are growing The Poetryhood tree one branch at a time, so far we have two branches; Dubai Poetics & Beirut Poetics and I look forward to eventually covering the entire Middle East. I have ideas to develop around poetry, like a poetry podcast, poetry film production, poetry social mixer and publishing an anthology that is a book of collections from different poets featured in The Poetryhood.
MOR : Tell me about your latest project ‘Hamburger Generation’ and how did you come up with the name?
JA : My friend Isra Abu Zayed and I have been avid podcast listeners for ages. While we enjoy the amazing stories from the west, we felt sad that there was a lack of podcast storytelling coming out from where we are, so we decided to do something about it ourselves. The idea of Hamburger Generation | جيلالهمبرجر is to tell bite-sized personal stories in a conversational way. The name comes from how the older generation calls our generation “جيل الهمبرجر” whenever they are disappointed with one of our complaints, for example “My smartphone is not charging fast enough!” that is when an older person would reply something along the lines of “Oh! look at you, a generation of hamburgers!” I’ve heard it is a prominent line in Pakistani culture.
MOR : How do you connect to Palestine, as a Palestinian Canadian living in Dubai?
JA : My parents taught me to be proud of my roots. Palestine, unfortunately, is becoming more and more of an idea than a physical location and the moment we stop recognizing who we are, that idea will vanish. It’s important to say I am Palestinian first, even though I have never been there. It is the least I could do in my short life, to do my best to represent my roots positively. I owe it to my parents, grandparents and ancestors.
MOR : What is your favorite Palestinian Dish?
JA : My mom makes an amazing Shakriyeh, that is to die for!
P O E M S
Reading My Grandfather
Can you resurrect my grandfather?
I doubt it.
There is no such thing as “speaking with the dead”
That is stupid.
There is, however, reading the dead
Yesterday, I read my grandfather
I saw him dead (again)
Saw him kiss and hug my grandmother for the last time (again)
Saw myself sat in the living room staring through the slightly cracked open door into his bedroom (again) as his 4 daughters surrounded him helplessly (again) with his moans and cries ringing in our ears as his soul was getting dragged away (again).
Let me read him to you…
“أكل تنفعك يوم الهوش“
كان جدي يحكيلنا هالجملة لمّا ما كنّا نخلص صحنّا
عندك تفاحة اليوم؟ و يأشر على خدّي
فبيشتري تفاحة ببوسة
و البطّيخ من راسي بإثنين
و العنب من دأني بثلاثة
آه .. كان يبوس دأني
يا جدّي.. شفتك عبتعجز زيّ ماشفتني عبكبر
شفتك عبتقرأ كلّ الجرايد مدوّر للصحوة العربية
كإنها مخبّاي بشي كلمة أو جملة عبيستنّوك تقرأهم
يا جدي إنتَ بدايتي
إنتَ بداية كلّ ما أرى و يُرى
إنتَ نَفَخت فيّي الأدب، و يريتك تشوف عظمت نفختك
It is difficult to say fare”well” to a man dying in pain.
It is difficult, so this time I said fare”better”
Here is to you سيدو
I hope you are in a fare”better” place
* * *
Do you ever spit blood
because you try to taste life too much?
Do you ever max out on a human experience?
like “I love you”
but you promised your psyche
“I will never say these 3 words again”
but when the compass points, you follow.
You find out – truth is not on a straight path;
it is on a spiral.
Sometimes life is limiting
so you lucid dream
realize every desire is at the finger-tips of your mind
and so is every despair.
“Tread-carefully” is an advice that enters your right ear
and exits ear left
you are left with 4 stitched spots on your head
a broken finger
a broken shoulder
a chipped tooth;
“Tread-carefully” almost robbed you from your life,
as you’ve seen it swindle many others.
Try it all and try it now…
Emoticons in a poem 😉
– stupid – spit blood
A metaphor about the taste of life in your mouth
– no one got it – spit blood
Speak to God in your own language – بما أنّك العليم, السميع, الرقيب, الشهيد, الباطن أقرب إلينا من حبل الوريد
– everyone claims God solely for their tongue – spit blood
Spit blood out of your jugular veins
and don’t forget to taste it
* * *
Logos commends my rational flow of logic
when I mold sense into a box
that never surmounts to anything special,
Well, Pathos could never play it cool.
Pathos boils blood when thirsty for soup.
Pathos likes to believe I have wings
and then push me off the bridge.
Pathos can find meaning when carving out initials with my blood-dripping nails.
I need to keep Pathos on a leash,
sporadically playing with my powers I can never plan ahead.
He’s a bulldog and I’m a skeleton constantly fleeing his thirsty bite.
At the end of the day, I’ve got Ethos on my side.
For whom other than I will be my body’s main guide?
I, who commands my hand to grip and it will clinch
I, who commands my tongue to roll the “R” and it will ring in your ear.
Ethos hands me the quill facing my book of destiny
giving me the choice between my brain or my heart.
But it also makes me think that I am a god.
As long as I am in a Zen state of mind
these ingredients bow to my will and thought.
Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, Tanya knew that Palestine was her symbolic homeland. Always curious about her identity and connecting with her roots, she was eager to strengthen her ties to the Levant and traveled the region, desperate to learn more. It wasn’t until her first trip to Palestine that she became spiritually and emotionally connected.
She studied Political Science and Sociology at the University of Toronto. She then moved to the UAE, supporting numerous NGOs related to children’s welfare in the region. When she had her own family, she created the My Olive Roots platform in the hopes that her children and the Arabs diaspora would have a place to connect, learn and preserve their roots. Tanya enjoys discovering humanist stories and exploring the connection of food and art with culture.