From Damascus to Istanbul: a child’s memories of a city . . .
-Yasmin: a female Arabic name “jasmine”
-Firas: a male Arabic name “perspicacity”
-Feirouz: a very famous Lebanese singer
-Adan: prayer call
-Habibi: “my darling” in Arabic
-Dabkah: a Middle Eastern dance
-Quassioun: a mountain in Damascus
IMEN BENYOUB ~ is a miltilingual, multi-talented writer, poet, and artist living in Guelma, Algeria. She is a regular contributor to Into the Bardo and to On the Plum Tree and Plum Tree Books Facebook page.
A Heart Without Borders was originally published in On the Plum Tree and is shared here with the permission of author, Imen Benyoub, and publisher, Niamh Clune.
“Algerian, Imen Benyoub is a poet I have long admired. She writes with such feeling and movement. There is something veiled about her poems that entices you to want to dive into an underlying mystery.” Niamh Clune, Ph.D. (On the Plum Tree), creator of Plum Tree Books
Editorial Note: We are pleased to welcome Niamh Clune and Imen Benyoub to the Bardo community of readers and contributors. Niamh has joined us as one of the Core Team members and Imen as a guest writer. As a member of the Core Team, Niamh’s prophetic and mystical writing and art will regularly grace our pages and our hope is that Imen will share more of her work with us as well. Here Imen tells us of her love of poetry and her admiration for one of the poets of the more recent Palestinian diaspora, Nathalie Handal.
When I write, I surrender.
Surrender my senses to a delicious chaos – my soul to reach a deeper abyss and my heart to travel outside its borders.
It is the freedom that comes with writing that made me live through my pen and left me endlessly caught between worlds and words.
It is the freedom that sent Nathalie Handal on a journey from New York to Andalucia – full of colours, textures, and fragrant with history, to recreate the journey of her favourite poet, Federico Garcia Lorca, in reverse, and reconnect with her Mediterranean Eastern roots.
I was confused about what to call a woman whose soul stretches across four continents, a woman with many identites and many homes. But after reading “Poet in Andalucia,” I realized she is a woman who does not recognize borders. Like a gypsy, she moves, collects memories, scents, music, visions of landscapes and secret longings and fuses them into poems.
Nathalie Handal, a poet, playwright, translator and editor was born to Palestinian parents from Bethelehem. She travelled extensively through the United States, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Like Mahmoud Darwish and many exiled Palestinian poets, she tries to give a new meaning and shape to the word “home,” and Andalucia with the richness and the complexity of its cultural and religious heritage reminds her of her own country, where Muslims, Christians and Jews live together in harmony and peace. Drowning in nostalgia for a beautiful yet sad past, Handal tries to revive traditions of Andalusian poets, along with the spirit of Lorca who inspires her work.
Her poems drip with sensuality and longing, woven in English, Arabic, French and Spanish, languages she grew up speaking as a result of her displacement, a special feature that gave her work a multi-layered depth and musicality.
Along with “Poet in Andalucia,” Handal published “The Lives Of Rain,” “The Neverfield” and “Love And Strange Horses.” She won numerous awards and she lectures worldwide.
Nathalie Handal is a universal poet; her poetry is a mirror to her lifestyle as a beautiful nomad in search for an identity. Her voice is honest and passionate, where the East embraces the West in a beautiful harmony.
– Imen Benyoub
© 2013, essay, Imen Benyoub, All rights reserved
IMEN BENYOUB – As indicated by Namh Clune in the introductory statement, Imen is a talented poet in her own right, hence this video that provides a sample. The poem is Imen’s. It is read by Eabha Rose (theartre of words). The music is by Trian Kayhatu (band camp).