THE WORLD MIRROR / SPOTLIGHT
“I do not write poetry but I am written by it – to regain the childhood of the world”, poet Abd al-Hady Rawdy says. In his interview with Kosmi, the poet speaks about his latest book called Higher than a downfall (2017).
Shurouk Hammoud and Hanna Hirvonen, interview
Where are you from, Abd al-Hady Rawdy?
I was born in Fateh Yanayer city, in Morocco, in 1979.
As any stranger with two histories which do not meet…I was born, inhabited by the friendship of the clouds in a day my mum doesn’t remember its features anymore. Women gathered around my soul, sewing conquest rituals of crystal and very mysterious things.
I was waving from a perforate in the decrepit door of the tribe’s single women, while they were spinning the trill of the coming, they read what they could from clay anthem.
My brothers disagreed on naming me, I was glancing up for a long time, and not laughing except for a moment. I was laughing to the birds which prune the sky with the songs of the Bedouins.
Where do you live now?
I live beside a verdant anxiety that rites the rituals which attracted it beside the soul’s balconies. There are many places that flutter over my memory but I adore this cement city called Casablanca.
Where cement covers everything and the only remaining thing to be, my only refuge, is the letter by which I rebuild the refraction of the soul’s flower.
What is your new book about? Does the place you live in have an impact on it?
Of course Casablanca is an effective and influential place in my third book Higher than a downfall. Through it I remember the life story of my dead father, in a moment of recognition of his virtues, and describing the brothers intrigues and wars which happened after his death.
Why do you write poetry?
I do not write it, I am written by it. There is a vast bond between writing and being written. Writing is an intentional action sought by the self that mobilizes its soldiers to live in it, while being written is an abrupt action that finds its rituals in ourselves, evoking us from the inside to re-catch the unconscious and the difficult things in our memory and senses, and domesticating it through poetic language.
Through being written I work on making the world regain its childhood, make the soldiers exchange flower bouquets on the geographical borders which are at war against the humane inside us.
I am being written because through this I gather the pieces of an obstinate past. A past and a childhood that nursed upon shivering toughness and a present that refuses dreaming.
What are the conditions you have experienced during writing your book Higher than a downfall?
The circumstances I lived in during writing my new poetry collection were like a prayer that is full of begging and asking, because my father died before the life tree gives fruit, he did not leave a will to any of us, leaving wounds inside my soul. I remained lying after his death, asking the winds which raided me, and holding the torch which is given to me, holding its flame, recalling his soul and his work, and in another part of the same book. I surrounded the fire which broke out from my brothers’ garden, worked hard in surrounding it with language and dream and I succeeded in putting out its flames as much as I could. Revealing by that the reality of our human souls in their complete antithesis with the sin…it is the sin of the legacy and our human sin as well.
How did you publish your new book? Is it self-published or was there a cultural institute or some other institute or organization which helped you?
Fortunately, my third poetry collection has found an official cultural foundation at a lab which is the poetry house in Morocco. The book found its way to poetry readers in my home country in the beginning of last year. After experiencing self-publishing – my first poetry collection was of my own funding, made possible by a bank loan – I bet that poetry readers would meet away from any recommendation of any cultural foundation but poetry itself. And that was exactly what happened.
Where can we find your new book?
My poetry collection has just been published during the time of the Casablanca book fair, I signed it during a meeting by the poetry house in Morocco that was attended by many other poets who were honored to have their works published by the same house. Because of that I do not know where to find it, the thing which spotlights the problem of marketing poetry books in our Arab world, since poetry did not get publishers and contributors acceptance in the time of novels’ dominance.
Hope that poetry especially and the cultural book generally, would be activated instead of ignoring it and selling it in the scrap market or in the used book markets.
Are you the same person than before writing Higher than a downfall? Did it add something to your personality and experience?
I do not know if I am the same person before and after writing my new poetry collection. All I know is that I am keen to prune my soul and listen deeply to it, and looking inside the undiscovered land of poetry here and there hoping to be written as poetic texts that would have the attention and the empathy of poetry readers first and last.
What do you usually feel when you publish a new book?
It is a feeling all the writers and creative people have, I feel that I have got a new baby with a new identity and new features. Also I am looking forward to readers finding in it what they are looking for. I also wonder if the critics might give their attention.
If you were not a poet, what you would like to be?
A street sweeper like my father, who spent his life in collecting garbage and giving life to the streets and the alleys and making people happy.
Fragments from the book Higher than a downfall:
What are you thinking about
O Abd Al-Hady?
Are you thinking about the ignition of snow
Or about the deer Picture
Dressed up echo?
I am here
Praising my homeland stars
Like a soldier
Regreted a war he did not ignite
What are you thinking about
O Abd Al-Hady?
About the wolf wisdom?
Or the land betrayal of the clouds?
Translation from Arabic Shurouk Hammoud, 2017.