The Indian poet and writer Tishani Doshi talks to Palestinian poet Asmaa Azaizeh overlooking the sea, and the waves come in verses.
Published in Thehindu
Asmaa Azaizeh was born in a village in Lower Galilee called Daburiyya in 1985. When she was 18 she moved to the nearby port city of Haifa. She missed her parents, the mountains and valleys and fields, the almond and olive trees in her village, but in Haifa she found herself. She became a poet and journalist. She discovered a place called Fattoush, a café founded in the late '90s, where intellectuals and artists gathered. Asmaa is now a curator at Fattoush. She organises music, poetry and lectures and, since last year, has started a book shop and a gallery — one of the few places where Palestinian artists can exhibit their work.
Contemporary Arab poetry, she says, has largely broken free from classical form, shape and rhyme structures.
|Asmaa Azaizeh | © Bianca Sistermans|
One day, in the kitchen, she used a term I’d never heard before — “Refugee Poetry”. She talks of Syria, the millions displaced, the strange and sometimes complicated responses of European institutions to try and understand what it means to be a refugee.
“It’s problematic because it means if you’re a refugee you have a higher legitimacy to do whatever you want, and taken with the historical background of Germany, who are used to feeling that things are their fault, it creates a dangerous situation. This Syrian cultural refugee scene in cool Berlin — that whatever comes from it must be good. So, what I mean is that I can’t judge this period because there’s a lot of positive things happening, but it’s also dangerous, and the role of intelligent society is to be aware of it, to start writing about it, so it will be on the shelves of what we will read later, in the years to come.”