Su’ad al-Sabah “Veto the feminine plural”

The following is a poem (slightly abridged) by the Kuwaiti poet Su’ad al-Sabah. Translation the authors own. It offers a satirical viewpoint on women and writing.

يقـولونَ : إنّ الكـتابةَ إثـمٌ عظـيـمٌ
فلا تَـكتـبـي
و إن الصلاةَ أمـامَ الحروفِ حـرامٌ
فلا تَـقْــرَبـي
و إنّ مِـدادَ الـقـصائـدِ سُــمٌ
فـإيّــاكِ أنْ تَــشرَبـي

و هـا أنَـذا

قد شـربـتُ كثيـراً
فـلم أَتَـسَـمَّــمْ بِــحِـبْـرِ الـدَّواةِ على مَـكْـتـبـي

و هـا أنَـذا

وأضرمتُ في كلَّ خجمٍ حريقا كبيرا
فـما غـضـبَ اللهُ يـومـاً عـلـيَّ
و لا اسـتـاءَ مِـنِّـي الـنَّـبـي

يقـولونَ : إنّ الـكـلامَ امـتـيـازُ الرجـالِ
فلا تَـنـطِـقِـي
و إنّ الـتَّـغَـزُّلَ فَــنُّ الـرجـالِ
فلا تَـعـشَــقِـي

و ان الكتابة بحرٌ عميقُ المياهِ

فلا تَغْرَقي

و هـا أنَـذا قد عَـشـقـتُ كـثـيراً

و هـا أنَـذا قد سبحتُ كثيرا
و قـاومـتُ كـلَّ الـبـحـارِ و لـم أَغـرَقِ



They Say: Writing is a great sin

So do not write

Prayer to words is forbidden

So do not pray

The wells of ink in these verses are poison

So beware of drinking them

Yet I am here

I have drunk deeply

And I was not poisoned by inkwells

I am here

And with my writing I set fire to the stars

God was not angry

And the prophet did not resent me

They Say: Words are the privilege of men

So do not talk

That the art of flirtation is the privilege of men

So do not flirt

That writing for us is like a deep ocean

So do not drown


I have flirted many times

Yet I am here!

I have swum deep into writing

Yet I am here!

I have fought all oceans, and not yet drowned!

Translated by Hamish Kinnear

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