Eastern poetry performed ‘Under the Stars’

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By Nadia Alamah and Times Staff Writer

Cross-cultural poetry was the theme of the latest Poetry Under the Stars series event. On Tues., March 13, at Longway Planetarium, audience members gathered to listen to Eastern poetry at March’s Poetry Under the Stars meeting.

March’s feature poet was Ibaa Ismail, who was published in the 2004 edition of the Anthology of Arab Poetry in the United Kingdom. She has also published with various American and Arab-American cultural organizations. Her latest collection of poems is “The Awakening of Fire and Jasmine.”

“As an Arab-American, my direction is towards Modern and Postmodern poetry,” Ismail said.

The night began with Chair of Foreign Languages Jamile Lawand presenting various types of Chinese and Japanese poetry in an introduction to the prospect of students from a Chinese class at UM-Flint performing their own poetry in next year’s schedule of events.

“They deal with meditations on the stars, the night, love, drinking… just some very nice quaint poems that will go well with the theme of stars under the dome,” Lawand said.

Following Lawland’s presentation, students from UM-Flint Professor Mohamed Daassa’s Arabic class read poetry from many famous Arabic poets in Arabic, which they then translated. Some students even wrote their own poetry.

Fatima Rashed, a general studies major at Mott Community College, read “My Joy” by Rabi’a al ‘Adawiyya.

“She talks about her love of God and how she doesn’t focus on other relationships so much because… the relationship with God—there’s never a heartbreak or anything because a higher being doesn’t give you heartbreak,” Rashed said. “I chose this poem because it was unique. I never read a poem that was focused on love of God so much.”

Daassa introduced poet Ibaa Ismail, who read more prominent poems from her previous collections and from her latest book of poems, which has yet to be published.

Ismail’s poems are full of symbolism, expressed in poems like “The Octopus of War” and “The Seagull of Poetry.” Her themes included war, hope and her experiences when traveling to the United States from Syria. Poems such as “The Flame of Alienation” describe her overcoming her fears using the analogy of a phoenix rising from the flames.

“I don’t choose the subjects—they choose me,” Ismail said. “Because [when] you have to live the experience, you write very fluidly, very spontaneously. You write your anger, you write your happiness, you write your passions.”

The next and final Poetry Under the Stars event will take place on April 10 and will feature French poet and UM-Flint French Professor Vittorio Trionfi and retired MCC Professor Grayce Sholt, as well as English Professor Jan Worth-Nelson. French students from UM-Flint will also present poetry.

Nadia can be reached at nalamah@umflint.edu.

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