Slovenian PEN Centre and Miniteater Ljubljana organised, at the appeal of the World Poetry Movement, a major poetry event that took place in Miniteater, Ljubljana on Thursday, 20th of October. On that same day a poetry event was organized by the Columbian poetry festival Medellin.
Together with writer Lejla Kalamujić, recently nominated for the European Union Prize for Literature 2016 and young Chilean poet and actress Constanza Carlesi Del Rio, Sameer Sayegh, Iraqi poet, translator and journalist and the current ICORN writer in residence in Ljubljana, were special guests of the evening and performed readings.
As his native Mosul is awaiting a crucial battle, Sameer read a poem about his city:
And then what Mosul my city!?
And what after
and till when
killing, destruction, annihilation and
Why all that!?
What guilt have you committed oh, you patient and peaceful city!?
whosoever got the right to violate
inhabitants for more than two years!?
why you in particular!?
Let one of those killers-
speak up and say "We do this and that to this city
because it has committed so and so!?"
to cause blood to flow like rivers and
sell women in the market of white slave traffic!?
What is this!?
And what after!?
an atomic bomb fall on you
an unidentified airplane!?
Perhaps, yes, perhaps
that what will
this what will
I do not know anymore
the end of the term!?
And the file and the case will be put on
for culprit is
I forgot to put a title for the poem and that
"Mosul where to!?"
A number of Slovene poets also read and debate in this poetry event for Peace: Marjan Strojan, Miklavž Komelj, Nada Kavčič, Vid Sagadin Žigon, Jan Krmelj, Andraž Polič, Miha Obit and Barbara Pogačnik, who was also the main initiator and the programme dierector of the event. Besides their own texts, in relation with the cooperation with the Columbian poetry festival Medellin, they read Columbian poets Héctor Rojas Herazo, Fernando Charry Lara, Luis Vidales, Freddy Yazzed, Hector Canon, Gabriel Jaime Franco as well as Turksih poets Ataol Behramoglu and Tarik Günersel. There was music by Luka Ropret, Constanza Carlesi Del Rio and an inspiring young songwriter Alina Hirtl.
A short Q&A with Sameer Sayegh
Sameer, you are a respected poet in your homeland Iraq. Can you tell me how you came to be a poet and what and who has inspired your writing?
Poet is born not made, inspiration comes from watching sunset, smelling fragrance of a flower, reading or hearing a rhetoric proverb,listening to music, so it comes from things that surround the poet.
What are the themes of your writing?
Humanity, beauty and love and this word LOVE is very much rich - it means to love good in general, behaviour, attitude person..etc.
Can you name three influential writers that have shaped the cultural landscape of Iraq – and how?
Not to mention names there is a distinguished number of those writers and women are well represented.
What do you think the role of the poet is, in general and particularly in a country like Iraq?
Role of poet is not in a certain place of this globe, but everywhere, is to putdown beauty, love, kindness, passion etc..on paper in words that are similar to flowers, birds and dews.
You grew up in Mosul, a city known for cultural and artistic diversity. What was it like to grow up in Mosul?
Of course the place you grow up in will shape your views of life and writing and the full answer to this my poems will speak about.
How has life in Mosul and the province of Nineveh shaped your views of life and writing and how do you think that yours and the writings of your colleagues might influence young generations in Iraq and the world today?
Arts have no ages, generations or even nationalities all of them will unite and give birth to creative works.
How would you describe Iraqi literary traditions and styles and how do you see Iraq’s future in Literature?
There are many schools for Iraqi literature and style and naturally the future will reveal more and more shapes of new and unknown styles.
You finally left Iraq earlier this year and are now living in Ljubljana. Do you think your writing have or will be changing now that you have taken residence in Slovenia?
Naturally, I write and read poems that belong to Slovenia.
You worked as a cultural correspondent for Al-Jumhuria (and others?) in Mosul. Can you think of the most interesting interviewee and interview you have had, and why?
All were important because one can never prefer ancient site to another old musician to a distinguished painting.
You worked as a journalist both during the rule of the Baath regime and after the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. Did the subsequent changes alter the ways of working as a journalist in Iraq? And how?
Being "CULTURAL" correspondent will protect you from slipping in to the slough of politics!
Who do you think has the power to change – the poet or the politician?
Big events rather chapter of accidents.
Do you think that you will ever return to Iraq?
This is unpredictable
Sameer Sayegh is an Iraqi poet, journalist and translator. He was born in 1949 and holds a Bachelor degree from the faculty of Arts in English language and literature from Mustansiriya University, Baghdad, Iraq.
Sayegh has translated poetry from English to Arabic, published in various outlets, and has written and published a short story in English. He published his first poem The Virgin and the Horizon in 1972. In July 2013, one of his collections of poems, The Wanderer, was published in the UK. He is on the mayor encyclopedia of Iraqi poets. He worked for the Al-Jumhuriya (The Republic) daily newspaper based in Baghdad, as its cultural correspondent in his native Mosul. Until recently, he worked for the international daily Azzaman, printed in London, Baghdad and Beirut.
The World Poetry Movement
The World Poetry Movement was founded in the context of the World Gathering of Directors from 37 International Poetry Festivals, held in Medellin, Colombia in 2011. The main goal is to include most of the strongest international poetry festivals, poets, schools of poetry and printed and virtual publications, to increase cooperation and the individual and collective voice of poetry of the time.