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نوفمبر 14، 2009

This is why Samira Sharabati chose not to write poems again

 مكتبة سميرة الشرباتي(سميرة)

"You can't make a poet out of someone of God doesn't give the talent. But then, it is the person's duty to cultivate this talent."

Palestinian poet Samira Othman Sharabati was born in 1943 in the city of Hebron.

After completing elementary school and secondary school in Hebron, she got a diploma in English and a BA in Arabic literature from the Arab University of Beirut.

She worked in the field of education until 1986, when she has been sacked by the israeli occupation authorities; she returned to work at the Office of Education under the Palestinian Authority. She has been a member of the Palestinian Writers Union since its creation. In 1995, she won the Innovation Award for Women. 

The gifted poet found out about her talent and developed it as a child thanks to her uncle, the late Abdul Sami, who organized poetry duels between her and her younger brother:

    "When we inherited from my uncle's 1500 books, the Mayor of Hebron suggested that this collection should join the city's library under the name of the deceased uncle, but we refused. We have developed our own library with the help of our friends. It contains now approximately 5000 books, folders, a literary and a scientific magazine. And two days a week, it welcomes pupils and university students."

Women on the road to sucess

Samira Sharabati published her first poetry ("Poem search for a fellow traveler") in 1976. It was soon followed by a second book ("Words for time that follows") in 1977, which received a cruel criticism, that made the poet nearly stop writing, except from some pieces that were published from time to time in the newspaper Al-Fajr: 

    "The famous poet Ali al-Khalili took me by the hand and encouraged me to join the Writers Union in 1984. Then I started writing poetry again, and theater. I sometimes took part in literary evenings and little by little I got to the national scene."

What does Samira think of the status women in the contemporary Palestinian poets' world?

    "Women are usually said to feel jealous of other women, but as far as I was concerned, I found encouragement and solidarity. How Palestinian women supported me? Some women leaders in Hebron organized poetry evenings, a woman from the ministry of Culture invited me to take part in a competition for women's creativity. I also must thank a woman who organized a conference for women innovators in Ramallah where I was able to present a working paper, that made me more popular and made readers recognize me more."

What about women and their presence in Samira's poems, like for example the poetic drama "The Wedding of Zaid, the Wedding of Zainab"

    "Palestinian women in particular, and Arab women in general, have a real freedom of choice as far as their topics are concerned. Hadn't they, we would not able to read what we read in their novels and poems about women, their feelings deep inside, love and suffering, all the themes they write about in such a daring way. They have no obstacle before them, except for the limits they put to themselves." Indeed Palestinian women in their writings address taboo subjects like religion, sex, politics. 

Poems for a motherland

Is literature a mean to empower Palestinian women?

    "Woman have entered the kingdom of literature since the time of ignorance, before the prophet Muhamad. Many wrote poems and were creative, were they liberated and other were slaves? I don't think so. For me, emancipation is when women have faith in their value and in their role, whether they were writers or not. This description of the modern woman is biased by people who try to devaluate women in a pernicious way. Personaly, I beleive women have all the rights, the only need to learn to use them." 

Samira Sharabati's writings evolved from emotional poems to patriot ones after the martyrdom of her brother in 1968 in the Battle of dignity. She thinks that writings, in all their forms, are suffering, as the poet can’t create a poem unless she is in a tight corner:

    "There is no difference between the suffering of a woman writing love poems and a woman writing patriotic poetry. I am not so happy to write about the collective suffering of a whole nation. I would have liked to write about a safe and free homeland, where no blood would bleed, without destroyed houses and uprooted trees.”

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