Muhammad Fanatil al-Hajaya’s ‘Following the News on Al Jazeera’

Arabic Literature (in English)

“Following the News on Al Jazeera” is a pop-rhetorical poem by Muhammad Fanatil al-Hajaya, an intervention into recent news, translated and introduced here by William Tamplin:

By William Tamplin

Hajaya at a poetry festival in Isma'iliya, Egypt in 2010 Hajaya at a poetry festival in Isma’iliya, Egypt in 2010

Muhammad al-Hajaya has been recognized as representing modern Bedouin poetry. A literate, educated man with a varied career behind him, Hajaya stopped writing love poetry in 1988 and turned to the political. Hajaya wrote at least six poems on the second Iraq war, and his poetry continues to respond to current events: he’s written poems of warning to Bashar al-Assad and Vladimir Putin, mock-serious love poems to Tzipi Livni and Condoleezza Rice, and an elegy to Mu‘ath al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot burned to death by ISIS.

Hajaya is most remarkable for putting his poems into the mouths of political leaders. In his 2004 poem “Oh Condoleezza Rice!” Hajaya wrote as if George…

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