Bread and Salt – Poetry of the Levant told in the Music of Words

As part of Bread and Salt, there was a poetry reading of Iranian and Arab poetry in the Black Gate Cultural Centre here in Galway where the music of the words in their native languages was translated to English for our enjoyment and understanding…

Read in English with the translations in their own language after, similar to the readings I attended in Dublin on the Nordic poetry night some years back, , the poems showed the level of philiosophy and thought behind the poetry of the Middle East on par with our tradition la poetry, from a land torn apart by war there is bvery little of the modern style “Im depressed” verse that has taken over the poetry of the west, where peacetime has allowed us to indulge ourselves to such extent that in times of plenty we have poverty in nothing bar hope.

The two stand out verses for me were the ones about the person finding the bones of their brother, and paying for the second seat on the bus, as though bones, the dead was still a person, something not seemingly acknowledged even by his wife, who the narrator desired to open the bag and acknowledge the humanity of the bones.

Reading at the Bread and Salt Event in the Black Gate Theatre
Reading at the Bread and Salt Event in the Black Gate Theatre

The outstanding verse for me was a short one, what said we love the wind and the rain, yet we protect ourselves from them by umberellas and closing windows, the narrator says they fear the fact those to whom the poem is addressed will put barriers up to them when they say the narrator is loved.

The one that left a bad taste in the mouth was the one of the person in jail, talking of possible execution, who spoke of a “gypsy” putting the noose around their neck, which shows that racism alas, is not just a western phenomenon, predates our rule in the east, and is still existent there as it is here in Ireland, without our charm as Tommy Tiernan put it, that we don’t know are we being racist, or just having the craic…

Arabic and Persian poetry at Bread and Salt Event in the Black Gate Theatre
Arabic and Persian poetry at Bread and Salt Event in the Black Gate Theatre
A semi apologetic introduction was given to the reading of the work of an Israeli writer of German birth, talking of children are our revenge to the future, which leave our stamp on the world to come. It took a little from the reading itself I thought, as all voices must be heard to tell the story of a region.

The simplicity of the words so well addresses the emotions, it is a skill that modern mainstream poets have to relearn, or we have to learn to value again, as it is the market that dictates what poetry is popular in the world.

I do not know the politics of those behind the event, whether they are for the current regime in Iran, or for the Shahs, or for the peoples rule which I would prefer, but regardless of what their politics, it shows while the Donald Trump media shows the East as backward they must learn our ways, it is us who have so much to learn, and shows how we still in this post colonial phase of history, we still have the condescending attitude towards the cultures of the rest of the world as opposed to us here in the West.

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