’Alams for 2017

               (For the writers of Sun on Shuttered Windows)


yes, now the sky’s a hole                  and as you resume your lives                 everywhere
         at your feet                                          roads pull out                                              a hemorrhage
                     earth, far way overhead                  their knives                                                       of dread

what cause to take up                      fallacies and treasons                              clouding up the future
          when child and lover                      home or exile                                               your riveting yearnings
                      your lives and others’                     can’t be shed                                                    a hemorrhage of dread


I’ll never forget your faces               how you’ve wanted                                 to see strangers
         subsumed in                                      other hearts bound in                                 your poems and stories
                      joy and sympathy                           your hearts' work                                           read and re-read

Note on ’Alams for 2017
In the summer of 2017, my colleague Laila Moghrabi and I published an anthology of young Libyan writers titled Shams ’ala Nawafidh Mughlaqa (Sun on Shuttered Windows). The 500-page anthology contained short stories, poetry and prose by 25 writers, all under 35, as well as two essays by prominent Libyan literary critics. It was published by Darf Publishers, London, UK.

The book was meant to launch a new generation of Libyan writers to their nation which had been embroiled in civil strife since the death of Muammar Qaddafi in 2011. Two months after publication and a generally positive reception to the book, a fierce campaign instigated by Islamic extremists erupted on the internet. The outrage was mainly directed at one selection from the anthology that depicted a sexual encounter. Almost everyone involved in the book received death threats and insults that numbered in the thousands. But it was Laila and other women contributors who received a disproportionate share of the public shaming and threats. Fearing for their lives, some of the writers hid with their families, changed residences or left the country. Laila left Libya shortly after the attack and has not returned since then. The poem is dedicated to all the contributors in the book, and to all writers working in extreme circumstances. 

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Read next: ’Alams for Tripoli Night by Khaled Mattawa

Founded in 2020, Three Fold is an independent quarterly based in Detroit that presents exploratory points of view on arts, culture, and society in addition to original works in various media, including visual art, literature, film and the performing arts. We solicit and commission contributions from artists, writers, and activists around the world. Three Fold is a publication of Trinosophes Projects, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

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