Poetry Parnassus: In Search of the Other (Saudi Arabia)

Poetry Parnassus is a project of the 2012 Cultural Olympiad, hosted at the Southbank Centre in London. It ran from June 26 to July 1, and featured 145 poets from around the world. Here is the Guardian’s interactive map, where you can click on a country and read its poem. I will be posting them on a semi-regular basis until they’re done.

In Search of the Other, by Ashjan Al Hendi (Saudi Arabia)

Isabella
She searches for someone else every day;
and finds me
And I search for someone else;
but find her
It is said: that East and West shall never meet
but Isabella and I
Meet every day
on our trip in search of others.

NOTE: Isabella is a German girl who was a member of the Organising
Committee in charge of the Arab delegation guests participating
in the International Frankfurt Book Fair in 2004.

• Translated from the Arabic by Ashjan Al Hendi.

• ‘In Search of the Other’ from Gathering the Tide: An Anthology of Contemporary
Arabian Gulf Poetry
, ed. Patty Paine, Jeff Lodge & Samia Touati (Ithaca
Press, 2011), by permission of the author.

A beautifully simple and devilishly sly poem that speaks volumes about cultural stereotyping. The irony is that East and West do indeed meet on a daily basis – they just don’t recognise each other.

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