On November 17, 2015, a Saudi court sentenced poet Ashraf Fayadh
to death on charges of apostasy based on poems published in his book:
PEACE / WORKS &
THE GREEN LINE CAFE POETRY SERIES
in association with PEN International & PEN American Center
An Open Poetry Reading
in support of Palestinian Poet, Ashraf Fayadh
HOSTED BY LEONARD GONTAREK
(Each poet is asked to read one poem
appropriate to the occasion)
Sign Up In Advance:
THE GREEN LINE CAFE IS LOCATED
AT 45TH & LOCUST STREETS
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA
(Please note the address, there are
other Green Line Café locations)
This Event Is Free
The international literature festival Berlin (ilb) is calling on “all individuals, institutions, schools and media outlets that care about justice and freedom to participate in a worldwide reading of selected poems and other texts in support of Ashraf Fayadh,” a Palestinian poet who has been sentenced to death by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia:
An appeal was filed on Fayadh’s behalf.
In articles in The Guardian and Vice, the Palestinian poet and artist — sentenced to death by the government of Saudi Arabia, where he is a long-time resident — expressed hope of his release. He was able to speak to the artist Ahmed Matar, who passed along his comments.
Mater told The Guardian: “Last time I spoke to him he really thought he was going to die. For the first time he talked about what he would do if he gets out.”
To Vice, Mater said: “Things are going in the right direction. This pressure worked very well — the news — all of this was good. … He’s OK. He’s waiting. He’s feeling much better because everyone is with him.”
To keep up the pressure, organizers at the international literature festival Berlin are asking anyone who can to participate in a worldwide reading for Fayadh.
Fayadh, who has been in prison since January 2014 on flimsy charges attaching to his supposed apostasy, which the appeal contests, and his poetry collection Instructions Within (2008), was sentenced to death. According to The Guardian, the appeal argues his initial arrest was unlawful as it was ordered not by state prosecutors, but by the religious police. Additionally, “The allegation of apostasy made by Shaheen bin Ali Abu Mismar, who is alleged to have had a personal dispute with the poet, was not corroborated by other evidence, which goes against the principles of sharia law.”
Ashraf Fayadh's "Disputed" Poems, in English Translation:
petroleum is harmless, except for the trace of poverty it leaves behind
on that day, when the faces of those who discover another oil well go dark,
when life is blown into your heart to extract more oil off your soul
for public use..
That.. is.. the promise of oil, a true promise.
it was said: settle there..
but some of you are enemies for all
so leave it now
look up to yourselves from the bottom of the river;
those of you on top should provide some pity for those underneath..
the displaced is helpless,
like blood that no one wants to buy in the oil market!
pardon me, forgive me
for not being able to pump more tears for you
for not mumbling your name in nostalgia.
I directed my face at the warmth of your arms
I got no love but you, you alone, and am the first of your seekers.
you are inexperienced with Time
lacking rain drops
that could wash away all the remains of your past
and liberate you of what you had called piety..
of that heart.. capable of love,
and of intersecting with your obscene withdrawal from that flabby religion
from that fake Tanzeel
from gods that had lost their pride..
you burp, more than you used to..
as the bars bless their visitors
with recitations and seductive dancers..
accompanied with the DJ
you recite your hallucinations
and speak your praise for these bodies swinging to the verses of exile.
he’s got no right to walk however
or to swing however or to cry however.
he’s got no right to open the window of his soul,
to renew his air, his waste, and his tears..
you too tend to forget that you are
a piece of bread
on the day of banishment, they stand naked,
while you swim in the rusty pipes of sewage, barefoot..
this could be healthy for the feet
but not for earth
prophets have retired
so do not wait for yours to come to you
and for you,
for you the monitors bring their daily reports
and get their high salaries..
how important money is
for a life of dignity
my grandfather stands naked everyday,
without banishment, without divine creation..
I have already been resuscitated without a godly blow in my image.
I am the experience of hell on earth..
is the hell prepared for refugees.
your mute blood will not speak up
as long as you pride yourself in death
as long as you keep announcing -secretly- that you have put your soul
at the hands of those who do not know much..
losing your soul will cost time,
much longer than what it takes to calm
your eyes that have cried tears of oil
These poems appeared in Fayadh's poetry collection Instructions Within which was published by the Beirut-based Dar al-Farabi in 2008 and later banned from distribution in Saudi Arabia.
Translated by: Mona Kareem
Upcoming Green Line Events:
Book launch for David Kertis’ debut
poetry collection, The Word of The Day
the great Bill Zavatsky, poet, translator
and director of SUN Publishing
Philly Poetry Day 2016 –
Philadelphia Poetry Festival –