BEIRUT: With all the choices one can make, all the options one can have, and all the perspectives one can be influenced by, Turning Point chose everything last Thursday night and launched their new book in a poetry slam event at Antwork, Kantari.
And We Choose Everything is a poetry collection, written in Arabic and English to cater to the bilingual society in Lebanon, some poems are even written in both Arabic and English intertwining both languages through the distribution of verses.
According to one of the contributors, Jana Boureslan, Ph.D., she was inspired to write an Arabic piece that integrated comedy and poetry.
Although she was an English instructor at the American University of Science and Technology, Boureslan’s poem was written in Arabic to promote her mother tongue’s language. “During my upbringing, I was taught Arabic by wonderful teachers, in a manner perceived as fun,” said Boureslan. “Unlike this generation that doesn’t appreciate Arabic, due to how it’s taught, I still connect at the core with the values of our language.”
Various poets voiced their heartfelt verses about home, society, love, and loss.
“It is not blood / but spirit water / that courses through our veins,” reads one poem from the book.
With poems that tackle poignant matters such as self-reflection, mental health, feminism, and social satire, this anthology encompasses a wide variety of subjects. These poets have crafted their words to fight social phenomena; some challenge the expectations and realities of living in a single-minded society, while others speak about their struggle with anxiety and depression.
More still describe their ongoing endeavors to belong to new locales yet remain connected to their roots. Each poem out of the 72 is filled with verses written in a distinct style. The collection includes poems by notable writers such as Zeina Hashem Beck, Hind Shoufani and Rewa Zeinati, as well as many newcomers. The aim is to cater to both experienced literature enthusiasts and occasional leisure readers, organizers noted.
According to one of the contributors, Farah Hmadeh, she wanted a piece of her as a regular individual to be out there and heard.
“Everyone is always influenced by someone famous so this is a chance for people like us to share their inspirational thoughts,” said Hmadeh. “My piece titled Hatred is a three line poem that reflects the emotions a student feels post-graduation, in a world you’re left alone without a teacher, an adviser or any source you can rely on for support.”
The initiative hosted the contribution of 52 poets who come from different parts of the world, and was edited by two literature enthusiasts; Tala Smiley and Lara El Mekkawi.
About the Co-Editors:
Smiley graduated from the Lebanese American University with a BA in English Literature and a BS in Banking and Finance. She also has an MA in Poetry from Queen Mary, University of London. During her stay in London, Smiley interned at Penned in the Margins, a publishing house that specializes in experimental poetry, this company also creates productions based on classical and modern poetry. Smiley is a Lebanese poet who gets her inspiration from concrete poetry.
“When Lara approached me with the idea of the book, I was especially excited to contribute because I saw it as an opportunity to spread awareness about the poetry scene in Lebanon, which in fact is growing,” said Smiley. “It takes patience, hard work, and good poets to do a project that reflects on society.”
El Mekkawi is a writer, editor, and instructor of English. She acquired her MA in English Literature and Cosmopolitanism and World Literature. El Mekkawi currently teaches poetry at the American University of Beirut and works as an English editor at Turning Point Books, where she has edited works like Nadia Tabbara’s debut book Harness Your Creativity, among others.
“As a publishing house, Turning Point was always getting poetry submissions, but for the longest time we haven’t been really looking at poetry until we found out how big its community is in Lebanon,” said El Mekkawi. “So we said; why not do an open call for poetry?”
About the Publisher
Turning Point is a boutique publishing house specializing in compelling Middle Eastern novels, bubbly humor titles, empowering self-help books, rich coffee table books, colorful children’s books, and practical Lebanese guides. Their books can be found in major bookstores in Lebanon, Dubai, and London, or online via Amazon and Antoine online, organizers noted.
This photo shows the cover of the collection book. (HO)
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