As a Palestinian student, I believe poetry is the best method through which the everyday Palestinian struggle is accurately transmitted. Southbank Centre has offered me the opportunity to see poetry through various lenses. By the use of humor or a sorrowful voice, the poets I’ve seen read this week have been a rich source of inspiration. One event specifically stood out to me, Thursday’s Poetry Lunch. During the event, Indigo Williams highlighted the effects of racial discrimination through her poem “Call Me By My Name,” which also reflected her self determination and the assertion of her own identity. Sabrina Mahfouz used wit and rhythmic poetry, swallowing one word after the other, to express her anger against acts of honor killing. Other poets, such as Remi Kanazi and Tshaka Campbell set a sad tone during their performances. Kanazi delivered the story of a Palestinian girl in Gaza struggling under Israeli occupation, while Campbell expressed his heartbreak as young children were sucked into war in “War Child.”
Najwan Darwish, a Palestinian poet and critic, read a poem called “Fabrications,” which indicated that almost everything in our current lives as Palestinians lacks honesty and thus is a fabrication. While listening to Fiona Sampson, who won the TS Eliot prize for her 2007 collection, I could feel the “clear water drop by drop” on my cheeks, lips and eyelids. Renowned Syrian poet Nouri Al-Jarrah’s melodic words echoed throughout the auditorium as his poem “I am Not Odysseus” emphasized how he lacked Odysseus’ heroic deeds.
Lisa Suhair Majaj painted an image of the coffin maker’s workplace, where I inhaled the “smell of sawdust” and stepped on the “long line of broken teeth.” “The Coffin Maker Speaks” forced my imagination to roam around “the crushed and broken dead” bodies of people during wartime. David Kuhrt’s poetic insights of Christianity illustrated the importance of religion in his life by referring to Prophet Mohammed’s tribe and the origins of Prophet Abraham. I realized what it means to be a human, and the greatness of God’s power. After each poetry event, I was left reeling, as words, in Arabic and in English, slipped back into my mind. All of these elements became a river of inspiration. I just needed a pen and poetry started to flow.