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When Bouzizi died on January 4, the poet added the second sec- tion. Here, the effect on the poet and poetry becomes clear: On the day you died. I content myself with my poem and my cigarettes. I let grow my hair And my nails. I weep and punctuate the poem with my tears. The poem may be weeping with me, Anguished, Burning. This time, it is Bouazizi who is speaking: In every season, red freedom grows. I have nothing to lose but this system and its company. If I were not alive [formulation intended], I would have burnt the same ministry To lighten up your revolution.

Darkness in Saudi Arabia. It should be noted that he was selected as national figure, specifically as a poet. The festival brochure bears the words of the poet Mounaouar Smadeh: If you live amongst them, live for words. You are their witness and your words will testify for you. It is clear, then, that Awlad Ahmed poeticized the revolution in a number of ways. He likes to say that independent Tunisia is his little sister.

On this he says: This is me: I came to life early morning on a Saturday. The Franks were leaving and waving an incomplete victory sign. And I was a butterfly fluttering in poppy fields. After a year, Tunisia, the green from the North, became independent. Whose mother is she? I am her brother in milk, freedom and questioning. There he met the Nietzsche enthusiast Salim Dawlat and the very popular poet Moncef Mez- ghenni, among others. Yet, he stood against the purism and discipline of both. He is, in a way, more like Al Douaji, raw talent and rebellious spirit, who lacked disciplined intellectual training but did not lack depth and rootedness.

All three converge in him. Yet, this move continues to plague his reputation. This was not an isolated behavior among intellectuals, however. In fact, it was part of initial rallying behind the emerging regime and its promises of opening up social and political life. Many, like Awlad Ahmed, were ready to align themselves with Ben Ali at first.

Lessons of the Jasmine Revolution

This climate did not last very long. By establishing links between his work and that of others, locally and within the Arab World, I draw attention to points of con- vergence as well as differences in protest poetry and in conceptions of poetry more widely , as well as the role of a particular kind of intellectual. Why, indeed, do Darwish and Awlad Ahmed speak to the moment, whereas Adonis and al-Wahaybi, for example, do not, or do less?

Can we learn something about modernism in Arabic poetry and about poetry as commu- nal expression in the light of the ongoing revolution? In other words, what do these revolutions tell us about Arabic poetry, and the other way around? This is particularly true of the Tunisian Revolution, because there was nothing in the Arab region to emulate or be inspired by before it occurred.

The implications are, of course, much wider, certainly in the Arab World but global, even. For such a local revolution, imagina- tion had to be local. And it is here, I think, where local poetic sensibility, imaginary, and track record would prove most crucial, on the ground, so to speak.

Any serious understanding of the revolution should bear that in mind. Awlad Ahmed is fiercely, even militantly, Tunisian in his references, language, and preoccupations. He has been so since the s and has made only rare incursions into the Arab scene a poem about Palestinian movements, occasioned by the intifadha, for example.

And I continue to call them my people who are impossible by day and accessible by night. I do so without paying attention to accusations of exaggeration or provincialism. They are writings, which will continue in the same pace if in future a minister or a head of government wanted to play the role of a vertical god on this horizontal land. In the following lines, he refers to the two statues on the main street of Tunis, where the fourteenth-century historian Ibn Khaldoun, claimed by Tunisians as theirs, stands near the gate to the old city, while that of Bourguiba is located at the opposite end, toward the sea.

Dear Ibn Khaldun! The City is too narrow for your stride. How often I have passed by your cloak of steel! And loathed my time! Shed the new idol! And write to the opposite idol what he is worth!

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Personal interview with Awlad Ahmed, Tunis, July 22, For we are destined to last And he is doomed to rust. It ends with a visionary oracle: Run so that I will not kill you! For today is mine And yesterday is yours. Run so that I will not kill you! For the land is mine And the sea is yours. For the land is mine, The sea is mine.

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And God is yours. For the land is mine, The sea is mine, God is mine. And the grave is yours. Awlad Ahmed was one of those who stood against the state and close to such institutions, most promi- nently the UGTT, the formidable trade union, founded by Farhat Hached on January 20, , which has played a crucial role as locus of resistance and refuge for activists of all orientations, down to the present time.

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The prison walls are my mirror Awlad Ahmed, Hymn of the Six Days, When my brothers speak up The journey and the goals draw nearer. A trade unionist I confess. Disciplined And different. Dawn light is upon me And this night is waning. Poetry was pulled out like a sword. So I went home, To my dream.

Warm tears welled up in my eyes. So I kissed the ground of my country. I toured all your prisons, And now I must stand up and confess: I am the recorded victories in your defeats. I am the seashells. The creaking of the door is my clock, The face of water my mirror. Awlad Ahmed, Laysa li mushkilah, But the poem is important in another respect as well. Abbasi concludes that the main objective of narrative hybridization is located, in Awlad Ahmed, less at the level of expressivity as it is at the level of reception.

One element of this readability is intertextuality. Awlad Ahmed uses an intertextuality that guarantees a certain aesthetic transgressive beauty at the generic and ideological levels and declines the desire to be read in relation to the Quran, for example. The use of narrative discourse within the poetic discourse is itself an ideological act. It is also an aesthetic capable of giving back to literature a certain human potency without diminishing its lit- erariness. In addition, poetry, or literature in general, remains tributary to part of a historicity — It is committed to Tunisia and its present.

Through narrative, one detects stories, allusions to historical events, and linkages that root the poem to local history. The roots of this method, I argue, run across modern Arabic poetry as a whole. As we will see, Mahmoud Dar- wish, under whose influence Awlad Ahmed fell early on, uses a similar tech- nique, and is motivated by similar aims, with a focus on Palestine, of course. And key to its popularity and performability are its orality and rhythm.

As We Wait on al-Ajami’s Final Appeal, a New Translation of ‘Jasmine Revolution Poem’

Both features come from a conception of poetry and its role in history that Awlad Ahmed shares with Darwish. Both poets have been, in turn, affected by their practice of poetry and politics alike, or rather their understanding of poetry as a political practice, and of politics as both a field of poetry and a danger to it.

I will explain this point by an incursion into Darwish first. Hereafter, this work is cited parenthetically. It can do so only with the opposite of war, its fragile opposite. It fights war with human fragility; with the stare of the victim in the eyes of his persecutor, without the latter understanding what the victim is saying; with grass scattered by the roadside; with chil- dren playing in the snow.

We always want something heard. In other cultures, the lyric is neither the dramatic nor the epic. For us, the lyric is linked automatically with romanticism; we link the lyric to singing and tatrib [pleasurable music and song]. Music is a pillar of poetry.

We like to hear. Touching a text with our eyes is not sufficient. Modernist Arabic poetry also excludes feelings. I accept all open experiments in poetry. He usually starts with a line and writes the poem, then rewrites it several times into a structure. For this reason, he says, he destroys his manu- scripts [93—94].

Muhannad Abdelhamid Ramallah: Minis- try of Culture, , Leiden: E. Brill, Part of this mix, a necessary part, for Darwish, is history, particularly lived his- tory. One way of recording history is narration, mentioned above in the case of Awlad Ahmed.


In sum, Dar- wish asserts that modernity should be linked to the liberationist project, on the one hand; and to the aesthetics of Arabic poetic tradition, without which there can be no real Arab poetic modernity The Tunisian people's dismantling of the Iron Curtain is worth contemplating and learning lessons from.

The Tunisian uprising is a continuation of the encounter between social and democratic claims in the demands of the Tunisian people. The current uprising is of the unemployed university graduate youth, and it is marked by its ability to combine the social with the democratic. The protestors' sensitivity to unemployment is linked to their sensitivity to the importance of justice the so called "Tunisian economic miracle" is in the capital and northern coastal cities but not in the interior of Tunisia or in the south , dignity and freedom: Freedom to join political groups and parties, freedom of expression, freedom of religious practice, women's freedom to wear scarves, freedom to write about corrupt people in the government, the Ben Ali family or the Trabelsi family.

The encounter of these two types of demand is what made the Tunisian youth feel that they had become a homo sacer, in the sense that the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben gives it. This situation is the revolt of bare lives, of defenceless hungry bodies that the regime has stripped of political identity and the right to belong to the groups which they prohibit such as the Islamic Renaissance Movement 'al-Nahda' and Tunisian Communist Labor Party. The Tunisian sociologist, Mohsen Bouazizi, wrote in a book that I edited called The State of Exception and Resistance in the Arab World , about the silent expressions among the Tunisian youth and how indifference and carelessness are used as mechanisms against the regime.

Mohamed's body, like other young Tunisians', was a target for the oppressive regime and its disciplinary authority that aims to strip it entirely of its political activism. Thus by committing protest-suicide, Mohamed has set a stand of resistance to the regime, and the effectiveness is achieved at the moment of his body's self-immolation. Mohamed Bouazizi and his fellows, who died committing suicide, became actors who sacrificed themselves and by that act, inverted the relationship with the sovereign authority.

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There are many lessons that can be learned out of the Tunisian genuine popular revolution, but I will limit myself here to four. The first lesson is about the main actors in this uprising. Labour and professional unions were able to mobilise the masses and at a second degree the opposition political parties. Yes, the uprising started as an unorganised and spontaneous event, but labour unions soon organised it and transferred it from one town to another. The General Union of Tunisian Workers was masterful in dealing with the regime: In northern Tunisia, especially in the capital, the leaders of the union were negotiating with the regime, while their counterparts in the south were opposing it.

The Bar Association also had an important and leading role in expanding the protests, from consisting of only the youth to including all ages and to the capital Tunis. Perhaps, people interested in social movements would want to focus on lawyers and judges movements in more than one location in the Arab and Islamic world, as is in the case of Egypt and Pakistan. But what about the human rights associations and civil and non-governmental organizations NGOs? Many donors and international organisations limited their view of the notion of civil society to these associations only, and thought they were the ones who would carry the winds of change.

These associations played an auxiliary role to the syndicates and opposition parties. This role was manifested by the way human rights associations within Tunis and abroad accompanied the uprising through disseminating documented information about the casualties and death tolls, and through stimulating the international powers, at both of the civil and official levels, to take firm positions against the regime.

Therefore, one of the most important characteristics of civil society is the synergy between syndicates and parties and NGOs. It is time for the donors who focus only on NGOs to distribute their support to all those institutions. Otherwise, focusing on NGOs exclusively will not only cause the inflation of the NGOs, but will also weaken the syndicates and parties whose best young men will then turn to work with NGOs.

Additionally, fulfilling democratic promises such as creating employment and guaranteeing social and economic rights should continue to remain of utmost importance. The democratic transition of Tunisia was hailed as a success amongst the Arab Uprisings and served as the model state for many aspiring Arab democratic movements. Youth unemployment in Tunisia remains at 35 percent, leaving many frustrated and vulnerable to extremism or exodus.

Every year since the revolution, Tunisians have taken to the streets to protest against issues such as high unemployment and corruption, with security forces resorting to the use of excessive force. Continue Reading. Isabella Chon. Sign in. Likes Subscribers Followers.