#NationalPoetryMonth: “A Tourist in My Own Country” & Other Gems from the Ummah

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April is National Poetry Month. Ever since I began working with Muslim writers more than a decade ago, I have been overwhelmed by how many English-speaking Muslims are poets or spoken-word artists. Many of you have shared your books on this site and asked where you could get your poetry published. I hope you will continue to share your ideas.

A poet in his own right, my oldest son recently wrote a thought-provoking piece in Arabic called A Tourist in My Own Country, which is an emotional poem regarding the plight of Palestinians who are unable to live in their homeland as citizens. Instead, they must visit as tourists, but the truth is that even that is not possible for most Palestinians.

Since childhood, my son has always had a love of the spoken word. He recites the Qur’an and often recites poems and songs as well, especially older ones about the homeland he has sadly never seen—even as a tourist. His voice talents are ones that he has developed purely on his own. Click on the console below to hear him singing As I Walk, which talks about keeping one’s head high despite the occupation (see this link for an English translation of the lyrics).

There is a lot going on in the world today, but the Palestinian issue is one of the great shames of this century and last. Palestinians often encounter great hostility when speaking of the occupation—and I have even been told to my face that “there’s no such thing as a Palestinian.”

The Palestinians are much more resilient than most people can comprehend, however, and they continue to resist.

Songs and poems won’t solve our troubles, but poetry is one of the many ways people use to process feelings and cope with the injustices of this world. Interestingly, Muslim scholars of the past frequently wrote poetry, and there is an entire genre called “the poetry of the jurists.”

Written a poem lately? Feel free to post links to your work—and if you are seeking publication, you may also find the following book of use to you:

Happy Writing!

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Amel is an experienced freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator. She started the Muslim Writers Club as a means of sharing useful information about the art (and business) of writing.
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