Kevin Simmonds’ brief film is part interview, part reading. Simmonds is the editor of the forthcoming anthology Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality, which includes this poem by Amir Rabiyah.
Another sign-language “reading” by poet and filmmaker Raymond Luczak. He notes at YouTube that the music was composed especially for the video by John Stutte. The book is available from Sibling Rivalry Press.
The description at YouTube:
Why do so many Deaf people seem so clannish? In this clip, Raymond Luczak explains why in a poem from his book MUTE (A Midsummer Night’s Press). Naturally, it’s subtitled for those who don’t know American Sign Language (ASL).
I’m putting this in the Spoken Word category even though it’s clearly unspoken word. For more on the poet, check out his website. Luczak is also a filmmaker, with two documentaries and two ASL storytelling collections under his belt. Thanks to Nic at Voice Alpha, a blog devoted to the art and science of reading poetry, for this great find.
The wacky folks at Teleportal Readings say about this one:
We filmed esteemed poet Ed Hirsch during a shoot Teleportal did in collaboration with Rattapallax at the Bowery Poetry Club last summer. Though “trippy” isn’t a term we’d normally use to describe Hirsch’s work, the hand-painted, rotoscoped animation by Teleportal art director Scott Gelber makes the poet’s “Self Portrait” just that.
For more on Hirsch, see his page at the Poetry Foundation website.
I’ve long avoided demonstrations here in the U.S., even ones I strongly support, due to my aversion to stupid, boring, time-worn slogans. So I was really excited to read that
The slogans the [Egyptain] protesters are chanting are couplets—and they are as loud as they are sharp. The diwan of this revolt began to be written as soon as Ben Ali fled Tunis, in pithy lines like “Yâ Mubârak! Yâ Mubârak! Is-Sa‘ûdiyya fi-ntizârak!,” (“Mubarak, O Mabarak, Saudi Arabia awaits!”). In the streets themselves, there are scores of other verses, ranging from the caustic “Shurtat Masr, yâ shurtat Masr, intû ba’aytû kilâb al-’asr” (“Egypt’s Police, Egypt’s Police, You’ve become nothing but Palace dogs”), to the defiant “Idrab idrab yâ Habîb, mahma tadrab mish hansîb!” (Hit us, beat us, O Habib [al-Adly, now-former Minister of the Interior], hit all you want—we’re not going to leave!). This last couplet is particularly clever, since it plays on the old Egyptian colloquial saying, “Darb al-habib zayy akl al-zabib” (The beloved’s fist is as sweet as raisins). This poetry is not an ornament to the uprising—it is its soundtrack and also composes a significant part of the action itself.
That’s Elliott Colla in an essay titled “The Poetry of Revolt” in Jadaliyya. Following a concise history of Egyptian revolutions and uprisings, he lists some of the most famous literary poets of revolt since the 1880s, and describes the extent to which their poems have been used to inspire demonstrators and galvanize action.
But beyond these recognized names are thousands of other poets—activists all—who would never dare to protest publicly without an arsenal of clever couplet-slogans. The end result is a unique literary tradition whose power is now on full display across Egypt. Chroniclers of the current Egyptian revolt, like As’ad AbuKhalil, have already compiled lists of these couplets—and hundreds more are sure to come. For the most part, these poems are composed in a colloquial, not classical, register and they are extremely catchy and easy to sing. The genre also has real potential for humor and play—and remind us of the fact that revolution is also a time for celebration and laughter.
Colla goes on to speculate that this communal experience of poetry is key both to building crowd solidarity and helping them overcome their fear of the regime through laughter. Read the full essay. There’s also another YouTube video of protestors at Tahrir Square which includes a translation of sorts in the description.
I am indebted to a Facebook friend (who is @kitabet on Twitter, but otherwise currently blogless) for links to both the essay and the video, and I gather from the notes at YouTube that we owe the translation to Facebook, as well—not surprising given the site’s role in the uprising.
Video previously posted on Facebook, “Bravest Girl in Egypt”, translated into English. You can now read and understand the slogans of the demonstrators. Translated by Iyad El-Baghdadi, subbed by Ammara Alavi. A shout out to Dana Kagis from Vancouver who asked for a translation.