AHMAD AL-SHAHAWI (Egipto, 1960)
Sayings from Exile
Earth is a prison,
and the skies keep the falling stars.
enter into the throne of love,
for death is a creature,
and your place is exile.
Your secret has been divulged,
and the duration of your time arises from a rose.
You will visit an isthmus
and you will be annihilated,
but your soul will remain undecipherable.
Translation by Nicolás Suescún
Ahmed al-Shahawi was born in Damietta, Egypt, on November 12, 1960. He studied Journalism and graduated in 1982. As a student, he participated in the foundation of the newspaper Sawt
Sohag where he directed the cultural section. In 1985, he started working in the newspaper al-Ahram. He participated in the foundation of the magazine Nisf
al-dunia from the same newspaper. He also got involved in many activities in relation to his work that took place in the United States. In 1985, he obtained the prize UNESCO for letters and in 1998 the prize Kavafis for poetry. He is a member of the Comission of Poetry of the High Counsil of Culture of Egypt since 2001. He has published ten poetry books among them: Two
Rakaas for love, The Proverbs, The book of love, Topics of the one in love, The
Book of Death, Water in fingers. His poetic work denotes a deep knowledge of the Sufi Muslim heritage, from the Arab Maghreb to the Persian one passing through Egypt. His poems fascinate for his innovation as well as for his modernity. Inspired in the Sufi poetic tradition, El-Shahavi takes up again the topics of his ancestors: the passion, the trascendency of human emotions, the captivating omniprescence of the Female Being. He gets inspired as usual in his present experience as an engaged poet, in a world consecrated to inhibition and to the denigration of pleasure due to the Other, the chosen being, subject and object unique and perfect of the loving state. He enjoys dismissing from the woman the sacrificed sensations due to this quasi-congenital shame that limits the legitimate flow of pleasure of the body. He digs the tongue to extirpate the hidden. The spiritual message underlying in each one of El Shahawi´s works places his words in this refined level whose millennial strokes of the lovely feeling get to captivate the reader in modern times.