Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Off Memory Side!

Off Memory Side!

I have a clear memory of sitting on a couch facing a wall of magazines displayed face - out in my High School library in Basra city, south Iraq:

I am reading a copy of Poetry magazine. I am thinking I should remember the names of some of these poets. So I do. And now I forget the names of any of those poets I planned that day to remember and remember only planning not to forget.

This could have been in February 1988. The February 1988 issue of Poetry contained a number of AL-SIAAB- poems, as did the May 1989 issue, There were also (of magazines with pleasure available to me at the time) large selections in both the Winter 1988 and Summer 1989 issues of the Basra city review. I still own a copy of the Fall 1988 Basra city review purchased around that time, so it seems likely I was in the practice of looking at it as it appeared.

I can’t reconstruct a moment — even a years — in which I became attentive of AL-SIAAB. What I know is that by the time AL-SIAAB’S Collected Poems, edited by Lebanese editor , was published by Beirut edition in the late months of 1989, I was willingly awaiting it.

I made an immediate request for the book from Beirut Library at Beirut University, checked it out— a big, off-white, virginal brick of a book — carried it back to my dormitory room and began a kind of overcome, respectful, and disorganized reading of it, A reading that continued for months. (I remember carrying that book with me to Baghdad and North of Iraq that spring , I read it on the mountains, valleys, green fields and oasis of Arabic River which met Arabic Gulf in south Iraq, or one morning in the Basra beach where I awoke having been driven out of the pretty big house by the sound of strangers sand arched on the floor next to me, nobody else seemed interested in the book (it was not recalled by the library) is not something that interested me one way or another then. It was just not something that occurred to me.