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Semantics matter

== Some words that enrage me  ==

Technical Error (who’s error?)

A stray bullet (who made it go astray?)

A house collapsed (did it collapse on its own?)

Collateral damage (synonym: their death is irrelevant because they don’t matter).

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This photo was taken in Sana’a, Yemen in 2011

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In the hollows of pain I hid you

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The Sitara

 First published on Laformoisie.

Sitara

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It’s Called Love

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“He said he dreamt I was a candle, and that I was melting and finally the flame died out.  And when he tried to grab the candle, there was nothing there.  So he went searching for me around the house, but his hands came up empty.” – Alawiyyah Sobh, Ismahul Gharam [It’s Called Love]

It’s always time for the Tufruta

tufruta saaania
Photo by @YemenPhoto on instagram

Imagine spending hours in an overcrowded unventilated room. No matter where you turn, your nose itches with confusion after involuntarily inhaling a mix of perfumed sweat, cigarettes, and incense.  Doesn’t sound appealing, right? Well, that’s how I felt at times when I was living in Yemen.  Yet now, I am saddened by the fact that I hadn’t appreciated the genius of the tufruta until now. Continue reading “It’s always time for the Tufruta”

Just 10 minutes a day

10 minutes“Take 10 minutes a day to write as though no one will read it.” That’s the advice I often give my students.  I tell them to write honestly and without fear, and to do that they should write as though they won’t post it online.  To write as though they’ll throw away the paper or delete the word document.

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Inspiring quotes about writing

These authors and poets have helped me overcome my doubt, especially on those dreadful days when it all seems utterly fruitless.

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A hug, please?

First published in laformoisie .

photo of old city
The photograph my daughter tried to hug of my former neighborhood in the old city of Sana’a.

In her high pitched toddler voice, my daughter asked: “A-maan?” as she pointed to a photograph above our dining table. “Aywa habeebati, that’s Yemen,” I nodded and then planted five wet kisses on each cheek. In that moment I felt pride akin to someone watching her child graduate. However a moment later, she raised her two little arms toward the photograph and requested to hug it. I hugged her instead hoping she wouldn’t sense my unspoken pain. Continue reading “A hug, please?”

Reflection

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Palais des Beaux-Arts, Lille, 16 September 2017

As a child, I I used to communicate with shadows.  I thought they were real.  They were often good listeners, but sometimes quite creepy.  I didn’t know then that the person in every shadow was me.

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