Poems by and Interview with Egyptian writer Amirah Al Wassif, To Be a Brilliant Woman In the Third World

“…you have to stitch and cherish and nourish and never have the chance to flourish!” Amirah Al Wassif

Amira’s exquisite poetry and prose have the lilt of Arabic and although I know many American editors would be tempted to edit into more standard straightforward English, I am loath to do so. This is perhaps because from childhood my ear is used to listening to English lyrically spoken by family and friends for whom Arabic was a first language. It is my pleasure to bring this young intuitive talent and her unique perspective to you here today. Enjoy! / J.D.

To Be A Brilliant Woman in the third world!

to be a brilliant woman in the third world
you have not to be!
so, if you want the basic tips
kindly listen to me
put your mind in a box
be ready to say every moment “agree”
announce your eternity silence
stop whirring like a curious bee
act as a bird in a cage
never dream to get free
don’t consider obedience as a guilty
it is honor getting down on your knee
and about your gifts
very enough to know all the electrical appliances, kind of dishes and how to make the tea?
nobody cares about gifts
it is not necessary, it is too wee
don’t try to laugh aloud
it is perfect to be a tree
and understand that argument is so dangerous
the best for a woman is to flee!

to be a brilliant woman in the third world
you have to obey!
your family, your husband, your neighbor, your president
whoever he or she!

you have to stitch and cherish and nourish and never have the chance to flourish!
you have to silence 
not crying whee!
in your success or if you finally could see!
in the third world 
all you have to be 
is not to be
nobody cares about your gifts
enough having a degree
in the obedience lessons
or cooking puree!

© 2019, Amirah Al Wassif

For Those Who Don’t Know the Chocolate by Amirah was published in the last issue of The BeZine. The theme was A Life of the Spirit. What is more indicative of that life than a compassionate connection to the suffering of others. The video below is beautiful done and you can read the text HERE.

for those who don’t know chocolate from Paul Broderick on Vimeo.


JAMIE: How did you come to poetry?

AMIRAH: I think I fall in love with poetry since my childhood, this magic made me more sensitive towards everything including the very small details. Poetry appeared firstly in my writing in Arabic, then I found myself sinking in a harsh conflict, I felt that I am in need to write with this fascinating language which touches my heart and my mind, I love English despite I am not a native writer but I saw my passion in it, writing poetry by any language, of course, it achieves the poet goal, when it will exist but in my case, I adore writing poetry and many kinds of literary arts in English although I have 5 books in Arabic, I found my enjoyment and my own voice and world when I started writing in English, poetry came to me without realizing from me, it absorbs my spirit and gave me a mysterious kind of beauty, I feel it in many ways, I can say it is one of the poetry secrets, when it covers your body and your soul without permission, without noises.

JAMIE: Why is poetry so important to the global community?

AMIRAH: I believe in poetry power, and I want to say without using repeated expressions, poetry language reveals what behind our minds, it makes us more harmonic with each other, it unites the people around the world, the politics, and the religion don’t have the amazing ability which poetry haswe need more and more from poetry, we need to focus on beauty signs, we need to create it. I believe in the marvelous ability of the poetry in pushing the people to taste life twice and to make our darkness colorful.

JAMIE What poet do you find most inspiring and comforting and why?

AMIRAH: There are many inspired poets for me, including Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Charles Bukowski, Pablo Neruda, Jalaluddin Rumi, Indian poet Tagore, Gibran Khalil Gibran, Maya Angelo, Robert Frost, and others. There are many inspiring poets for me.

The piece of poetry that pierces my heart intelligently inspires me and I can not stop thinking about it, that kind of idea that feeds my hungry spirit.

JAMIE: What do you hope to accomplish with your own poetry?

AMIRAH: I want my poetry to have an aesthetic sensitive taste and a human impact in the real world

AMIRAH AL WASSIF is a freelance writer (28 years old) from Egypt. She has written articles, novels, short stories poems and songs. Five of her books were written in Arabic and many of her English works have been published in various cultural magazines. Amirah is passionate about producing literary works for children, teens and adults which represent cultures from around the world. Her first book was published in 2014 and her latest illustrated book, The Cocoa Book and Other Stories is forthcoming.


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