Saturday, August 16, 2008

Ibdaa 'to create something out of nothing'

My kitchen window seat is a catch all for many things. There is room to sit, or to pile various books, magazines and papers to be in easy reach. The boys often empty their pockets there. Its landscape changes by the hour depending on who is where and what we need the space for. We keep small treasures there, reminders of things we want to remember, tokens really that help frame the view of our back garden.

Its hard to catch the small creatures that come to our garden with my camera. But I keep trying anyway. One frequent skit is a squirrel that runs along the lower wall and then stops at the small bird bath to drink.

Another is the chipmunk and his mate, small delicate stripped creatures who have entertained us for years with their gentle antics

And there are the Goldfinches whose flight leaves me breathless. And many song birds who come to our flowers and our feeders and our bird baths.

Provide a safe place for small shy creatures and they will come and enchant you.

In growing our gardens here in central Pennsylvania, we have to work with the seasons and the climate and the soil and the flora and fauna that we have- and the time and energy that we can spare to work in our garden.

We also have to hope that the rabbits don't nibble away all the prettiest parts of our hillside garden.

A red sun flower


We take a basket up now as our hands and pockets can no longer hold all the bounty from our vegetable garden.

Some days, while scanning the Internet I look at all there is on Palestine and am quite overwhelmed by the huge amount of documents detailing recent history and commentary, plus all the many artistic endeavors and projects and conferences and simply pleasant gatherings large and small.

Ironically much gets disappeared, temporarily- only to be rediscovered again and again and again....

fragment of a Palestinian poem by

Fadwa Tuqan

(The Grande dame of Palestinian letters, is considered as one of the best Arab pioneering contemporary poets. The sister of poet Ibrahim Tuqan, she was born in Nablus in 1917. )

To dissolve and merge with the grass,

To give life to a flower

That a child of my country will pick,

All I ask

Is to remain in the bosom of my country

As soil,


A flower.

To give life to a flower...

There is a charming youtube video Debcha Arabiya of an inspired young girl in blue jeans in an American parking lot dancing an impromptu dance for Palestine.

To give life to a flower...

The Dabka, a traditional folk dance and a community dance, is often performed at weddings and other joyous occasions, and is sometimes referred to in full as the Al Sha'raweya Dabka. The dancing is synchronised with folkloric songs, and themes range from patriotic to traditional.

To give life to a flower...

"Ibdaa" is an Arabic word that means 'to create something out of nothing' .... and from what I can see it very much means to make the most out of what you have.

About Ibdaa

Ibdaa, which means 'to create something out of nothing' in Arabic, is a grassroots initiative of Dheisheh Refugee Camp. Its mission is to provide a safe environment for the camp's children, youth, and women to develop a range of skills, creatively express themselves, and build leadership through cultural, educational, and social activities that are not readily available in either the camp or occupied Palestine. Ibdaa strives to empower participants with the confidence and knowledge to face their difficult future, while educating the international community about Palestinian refugees.

11/19/05 IBDAA in San Diego
This event was one of the best attended with the relatively large hall filled to capacity. The performance by the IBDAA troupe from Dheisheh refugee camp was both inspiring and moving.

& recently from an old friend

Al Jazeera.Net

I am grateful for every song bird, every poem, every fledgling, every dance troupe, every picnic, every friend, every film, every family gathering, every recipe, every embroidery, every child, every memory, every positive endeavor and every note that helps shape a more beautiful and gracious world... and helps make more real a better future for us all.
for Palestine inspires....
The Garden in Nablus, Palestine

The Day The Palestinian Poet Darwish Died

The day the Palestinian poet Darwish died
so too did the floor
of my fairy garden

to echo our loss

The day the poet Mahmoud Darwish died
when some dreamers still dreamed
that a perfect poem
might come again
to answer our need
to become our prayer
and fill our hearts with hope...

To rescue civilization
with love...
and the catch of a phrase

An interplay of perfect words
To pull all away
from the darkening abyss
of petty politics...

I had imagined
that flowers planted there
on the floor of the fairy garden
would tell every story
in time
as in now

Reveal all truth
in time
as in now
before it's too late

One small corner
where paradigms might tingle
into every bloom

Enticing poems
for me...

The day the poet Darwish died
"I come from there... and remember"
echoed everywhere

And in my garden, the greater garden
bloom and birdsong
soothed my soul:

A fledgling fledged.

Poem & Picture Copyright ©2008 Anne Selden Annab

Sunday, August 10, 2008

PERSISTENCE : "And my heart flies..." Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008)

Today they fledged! The busy wren (the little brown songbird who made her nest in the bird bird house and kept me enthralled for weeks as she attentively tended to her young) alerted me and I saw her child plummet and awkwardly try to fly. His first attempt was utterly pathetic. Thud would describe it best. It took an hour if not more of many attempts with his mother doing all she could to encourage him. She used her voice and their chatter and emotional songs back and forth were quite amusing to listen to. Most of his first awkward fumblings at flight were right by the window only a few feet from his nest.

The fledgling would flutter up and crash land and then rest for a long intervals, gathering up his courage and strength once again- persistence.

Once he was able to fly from branch to branch she lead him away, slowly and with much chirping and song, branch by branch up into the upper garden.

And that's that. The little bird has flown. And what a joy and pleasure it has been to be able to watch and wonder about it all.

My own oldest son is about to fly the nest too, as he leaves for college in less than two weeks. He's already sure of his wings, and will be fine on his own. We've done all we can to prepare him, he is ready and now we can only hope that he makes the most of all the many opportunities ahead.

And my youngest son is all excited about a "gig" for his band coming up soon. A real gig, not another birthday party like the few his band has already played. He just asked if we'd come watch and I am thrilled. Young talent everywhere, perfecting their skills.

The sad news this week is that yesterday one of my favorite poets died. Already many are trying to pull together tributes for this Palestinian hero who has meant so much to so many....

Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, Portrait by Palestinian artist Ismail Shammout (1971).
Ummi/My Mother - Poem by Mahmoud Darwish - Music by Marcel Khalife

My Mother

I long for my mother's bread
My mother's coffee
Her touch
Childhood memories grow up in me
Day after day
I must be worth my life
At the hour of my death
Worth the tears of my mother.

And if I come back one day
Take me as a veil to your eyelashes
Cover my bones with the grass
Blessed by your footsteps
Bind us together
With a lock of your hair
With a thread that trails from the back of your dress
I might become immortal
Become a God
If I touch the depths of your heart.

If I come back
Use me as wood to feed your fire
As the clothesline on the roof of your house
Without your blessing
I am too weak to stand.

I am old
Give me back the star maps of childhood
So that I
Along with the swallows
Can chart the path
Back to your waiting nest.

(This poem was written while Mahmoud Darwish was a imprisoned by the Zionist occupiers)

Last night, and today I have leapt from book to book and blog to blog reading pages and posts about Darwish and his poetry. A true poet, and a humble man- but a man of great influence. I think for centuries to come people will be mentioning Mahmoud Darwish and Palestine with awe:

He was a poet and will continue to be. My greatest inspiration was him, the refugee uprooted from a village in Galilee after the onslaught by Zionist forces. His passing came as a shock to me today, my heart dropped and I realized, the generation of the Catastrophe, Al Nakba is passing away. But their stories will remain, their struggle the poetry of our history. There is no greater weapon than the tip of truth's pen, and Darwish was its master."
From Verbal Rocks: Slingshot of the Mind:

And as if to mimic a poem- I found it very fitting that before hearing the sad news about Darwish, Amal of the blog Improvisations: Arab Woman Progressive Voice had blogged a wonderful post on the magnificent Chinese Olympic Opening Ceremony, expressing quite well the joy and pride many of us felt on seeing Palestine represented:

The Awesome Palestinians

"..... Finally, they appeared. The Palestinians. Now jumping on the sofa, pointing at the screen, and screaming "Palestine, Palestine," my son and I drowned about everything that the commentators said and could hardly focus on the picture. All I remember is this: there were four participants: two runners and two swimmers. The flag bearer was the runner Nader al Masri, who trained in Beit Hanoun, Gaza, during Israeli "incursions." I could see two women dressed in traditional Palestinian dresses. They all walked around the stadium holding hands and raising the victory sign. They appeared for a few seconds. The Cuban delegation followed and the Palestinians disappeared from the screen. We know they may not win any medals, but they already won. For despite the occupation, the closed borders, the divisions, the poverty, the misery, the lack of official support, the lack of facilities and the empty promises, they came for Palestine. They had no Olympic-size pools to swim in. They had no shoes or safe roads. They had no budgets. They had to wait for exit permits that may or may not be granted. But they persevered and came. My son and I cheered for this, not for an abstract nationalism or an "us against them" idea. We cheered for the tenacity of young women and men who insist on dreaming of a better future. When it was obvious that we will not see more of the Palestinians, we settled down. My son, breathless and flushed with excitement, turned to me and said: "They were awesome!" Yes, they were: Nader, Ghadeer, Hamse, and Zakiya. We thank you for your awesomeness!"

Amal's next post was on Darwish and on her page you can find some of his well known poems and readings.

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008): Why Did You Leave Us Alone?

"....We have to do with what he left behind. And do we must: for his poems are the oxygen mask that failed him but gets us through our days. The poet is dead. Words weep. Like us, they know what they have lost. Like us, they have been orphaned, adrift, in a world that has only politicians. The poet is dead. But his poems stay. We will know them better now. We will pour over them and squeeze every word the way we squeeze an olive to get out of it its last drop of goodness. The poet is dead and with him my dream that one day I will hear him live. Goodnight, poet. (for more of my blog posts on Mahmoud Darwish, click on the label below)


Darwish's famous poem "Identity Card" makes more sense when your realize it was written when few people in the West knew or understood what was going on in Palestine- few outside the Arab world even knew that there was such a thing as a Palestinian, and only a few years ago Palestinians were not able to display the Palestinian flag... "Identity Card" by Mahmoud Darwish from the blog

We Will Return

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Identity Card

By Mahmood Darwish

Record !
I am an Arab
And my identity card is number fifty thousand
I have eight children
And the ninth is coming after a summer
Will you be angry?
Record !

I am an Arab
Employed with fellow workers at a quarry
I have eight children
I get them bread
Garments and booksfrom the rocks...
I do not supplicate charity at your doors
Nor do I belittle myself
at the footsteps of your chamber
So will you be angry?
Record !

I am an Arab
I have a name without a title
Patient in a country
Where people are enraged
My roots
Were entrenched before the birth of time
And before the opening of the eras
Before the pines,
and the olive trees
And before the grass grew.
My father..

descends from the family of the plow
Not from a privileged class
And my grandfather. .
was a farmer
Neither well-bred, nor well-born!
Teaches me the pride of the sun
Before teaching me how to read
And my houseis like a watchman's hut
Made of branches and cane
Are you satisfied with my status?
I have a name without a title !
Record !

I am an Arab
You have stolen the orchardsof my ancestors
And the landwhich I cultivated
Along with my children
And you left nothing for us
Except for these rocks..
So will the State take them
As it has been said?!
Therefore !

Record on the top of the first page:
I do not hate people
Nor do I encroach
But if I become hungry
The usurper's flesh will be my food
Of my hunger
And my anger !

& from Kabobfest

Remembering the Great Palestinian Poet Mahmoud Darwish

"Darwish is the Essential Breath of the Palestinian people,"
-Naomi Shahib Nye

"Only Darwish can translate into words the contradictions within all palestinian minds.He writes what we can not express in words." commenter 4R4BW3APON

There are no words in me for this. So I rely on others' words, including this prolific poets to describe how I feel. Two of my favorite verses from his "Maybe, Because Winter is Late" (ربما اآن الشتاء تآخر) seem most appropriate now:

"The likes of us don't die, not even once,
from being in love with the nimble modern song
and they don't stand alone on the sidewalk
because trains are more numberous than words
and we can always reconsider"

"Time passes through us, or we pass through it
as guests to god's wheat.
In a previous present, a subsequent present,
just like that, we are in need of myth
to bear the burden of the distance between two doors.../
And if you have never been blessed (an honor which escaped me in this lifetime) to see Darwish perform his poetry, please watch the following recitation by Darwish of "Abiroun Fil Kilam..."

Mahmoud Darwish was a huge influence and inspiration for countless people, including me....

from Annie's Letters: A True Story, in honor of Palestine's beloved poet Mahmoud Darwish, may he rest in peace....

"this land is the skin on my bones

and my heart flies..."

Fragment of a quote from Mahmoud Darwish, seen on a story board in a park in Southern California a few years ago, at a rally to help educate America.

A poem in honor of Mahmoud Darwish, the renowned Palestinian poet, author of many well known poems, born 67 years ago in the village of Barweh in Galilee, Palestine, a village that was razed during the establishment of Israel in 1948. Darwish died today 8-9-8. At the time I was out food shopping...

. "And my heart flies..."

In the crowded American grocery store
a small dark old woman stopped
to stare wide eyed
at my simple necklace, specifically
at the small, delicately made gold charm
dangling, resting near my heart.

Its an Olive Tree whose roots
become a filigree that spells in Arabic

"It says peace in Arabic" I will say
to strangers who might inquire,
but the small dark woman
said nothing- stared
and as she stared transfixed
I could see her secret smile grow
until it tingled in her toes
and she stood straighter

words would only ruin
such a conversation
such a perfect exchange
I blinked yes
as they do in the Arab world
blinked yes and moved on
smiling too.

Copyright: poem by Anne Selden Annab

Our gardens continue to grow- where ever we can plant them. And we find shade on a hot summer's day under the trees we tend...