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a babylonian man’s aurorean songs under the sun — introduction by Krysia Jopek [November 3, 2019]
It gives me immeasurable pleasure to showcase beautiful new prose poetry, an essay on poetics, and a virtual art exhibit of Babylonian/Iraqi poet and visual artist, Anwer Ghani. This stunning, if I humbly say so, diaphanous micro issue was, unfortunately, delayed by political unrest in Baghdad in October [that was not in American news] that prohibited our ongoing correspondence, until the situation stabilized. It was a stressful time in Baghdad, and I was deeply worried about the safety of Anwer and his loved ones. Thankfully, all seems well again there — and our collaboration on diaphanous micro 3.9: the cloudy land could be completed.
Please enjoy a selection of Anwer’s new prose poetry, his treatise on poetics, and a selection of digital expressionism from his book, ABSTRACT: Digital Artophotography [Inventive Publishing House, 2019].
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the bitter flowers — new prose poetry
A BABYLONIAN MAN
I am a Babylonian man, and here, deep down, an ancient spirit. Ishtar, my eyes; Gilgamesh, my ears; and Uruk, my wings. Yes, I am from here, from Babylon, so you see my skin as brown as our land. My soul is tolerant like palm trees, and my giving hands are like the Euphrates. Look at my face; it is as expressive as the Babylonian drawing, and my voice is as deep as the Babylonian tales. The flowers are more beautiful in in Babylon and the smiles are more warm here and the sun is more shining here, in Babylon. Yes, these are all my naked and pure Iraqi desires. Yes, I, the man of Babylon, look and dream for a new Iraq, an Iraq without wars, without wounds; only flowers, love and smiles.
THE DOORS OF LIFE
The man of greatness saw a great land, a great life, and a great death—but I am just a forgotten tale that needs a brave poet with a magic boat to discover me. Here in my land, there are no poems; therefore, you can depict the intensity of smoke in a land where there are no poems. Our homes are completely different from scented houses, and the women here can afford nothing but sad hearts. The grass here is different. If the poets could see the grass in my land, they would change their ideas about life. Yes, we’re the sons of houses that don’t have doors.
THE BITTER FLOWERS
I remember the small flowers of my grandfather. They are bitter and colorless like my life. They have fugitive blossoms and are constantly hiding behind the gray veil like a bitter friend. Those colorless flowers stared at my face near our brook with my constant failure and like the heart of a woman, they colored my life with their harsh passion. I have been sad since I saw the tears of our land and as a legendary waterfall, they filled the streams with my blood.
My grandfather had a beautiful horse full of kindness. I did not see it, but they said it was brave. Maybe my family owned a saddle. I do not know, and I did not ask about it—but I think if we had one, it would be closed like our desert. Yes, I am an Arab man, and you know that there is nothing here but the desert—so, I decided to bring a Romany wagon to my house and teach my children freedom.
Our days are full of surprise, as all the happy springs are overflowing from their amazing fingers. I am not water, and I cannot sleep in the hearts of these springs, but the freemen made houses of love for birds that know nothing but the morning songs. They are smooth creatures, and there is only light in their hearts, so they are always shining and from their journeys, the beginnings have begun. Their hands are silver, and you can see their golden chants lying safely on our land where the lovebirds stand under our smiling trees and give me an unusual kiss.
I am a sunny man but not mysterious, so I can easily count my fingers because I am an old story of this land. I am from here; from the south where I can always disappear in our secrets. Please take a look at our faces; when you see our eyes, you will find our secrets not secret, and all those strange stories will reach your heart before the morning pain. Look at our land, we farmers from the south; our dreams sleep before the sunset and the frustration of the grooves of this land is released before the morning where the withered flowers know nothing about the secrets of eternal stories.
A JAR OF SMILES
My days are like my poems; gray and tasteless. They often asked me to throw them over the bridge, but I was an old lover, who could not drink his coffee without passion. They have wide hearts, just like the big cows I have seen in the old city, and without any delay, I have faded into their watery souls. Those souls, which you may have seen in old mirrors, say nothing but silence—because like my land, they do not know anything about love. Thus, I will bring a jar of smiles to color their gray faces.
THE CLOUDY LAND
This night isn’t so romantic, but my strange love immerses me. I am an absent tree and when you touch my hand, you won’t find just cloudy leaves. Here, my cloudy love sits and drinks pink water. Here, in my river—you should see all the golden braids of sun and the shy eyes of the absent fairies
Our land has a brown face and colored eyes, but I am standing motionless because my grandfather made a pale veil for my young dream. Now, I will tell you the story, and you may find some pink drops in my cloudy land. We have a kneeling tree and shy bird. Yes, I am from here, from the cloudy land where the lakes are yellow, and the girls are colorless. Where the songs are cloudy and the boys are motionless.
Please call all these remote sands and make from them a brave shadow. Please come here and look at me. I am the sandy man where the smooth winds of the world broke my weak windows. Yes, it is me, your shadow and your cheap dream. When the evening wears its dress and the moon comes with its odd, old hat—you will see the faint smile of my obfuscated soul.
THE WEAK LAND
I am from here—from the weak land where the women are weak and have no faces—and the girls are absent and have no voices. No sun here, in the weak land, no moon, no flowers, no butterflies because the faces of our women are faint and the voices of our girls yellow. My mother has taught me everything about the truth, but the truth is weak in our land because my mom is weak here. My wife has given me all her love, but love is weak in our land because my wife is weak here. My sister has given me all her respect, but respect is weak in our land because my sister is weak here. My daughter has given me all her value, but life is weak in our land because my daughter is weak here. My female friend has given me all her kindness, but caring is weak here because my female friend is weak here. I know without doubt–if our women exit from their weakness and wan faces—and if our girls exit from their absent and pale voices, at that time, the sun will rise over our fields. The moon will shine in our sky; the flowers will smile again in our gardens.
OUR SMALL FIREPLACE
Near our small fireplace, I feel I love you more, and when my hand touches its warmness, I feel that my blood is purple. Our nights are more lovely near the warm fireplace, and our moments are efficacious in its orange flame. When I call you, my voice becomes velvet near our small fireplace—and when you look at me, your glance becomes pink in the shadows of our warm fireplace. We are from the south, and we live in a small house but a passionate one with an old fireplace, but a warm fireplace. Everything has a different meaning near our fireplace. I can feel your perfume fill the place near our small fireplace. I can touch your smile near our small fireplace, and I can see the melody jumping out of my being. It startles me.
CELEBRATION OF THE WALNUTS
I am a simple farmer from the south, and when I bring walnuts to my house, I celebrate. At that time, our rooster becomes more attractive, and our chicken wears a melodic dress. The small window in our house sings with joy, and our cow shakes her heavy thighs. At the celebration of walnuts, we draw a round circle on the floor near the old fireplace and put all the nuts in the middle. Then you hear nothing but walnuts laughing warm stories. To see the glory of walnuts, visit on a winter night after sunset when there is only a cool breeze interrupting the silence of night. You must be a simple farmer from the south, just like me, to taste their delicious stories.
all new prose poetry ©2019
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poetry as mosaic mirror [poetics]
Our world is, in essence, a transfiguration of spirits. We can see the tremendous impact of spiritual acts on our daily lives, and our existence is just an ongoing attempt to perceive our souls.
The search for our souls is an innate desire. Just as we cannot live without food, we cannot live without this desire. One of the pages of seeing and touching souls in our lives is writing that, in its impressive style, activates the land of hope and illuminates dark areas. Beautiful writing, like poetry with its innovative features, can change our awareness of ourselves and the world as well as create pleasure and joy.
In our deep interior, there are interchange areas where everything means something, and when we talk about something, we are actually talking about something else. In this area and at this level, what happens is the exchange of feelings, meanings, and impressions. Writing becomes a great exchange, and at extraordinary times—shows the creativity of poetry through its spirit of metaphor. Subsequently, when we use a word like I, his, our, we are always referring to multiple topics, including things that are deep within us.
From this point of view, creative writing is a transfiguration of our souls. Ideas, like any creature, always try to emerge in a full and powerful existence. Therefore, an idea may wear many dresses to reveal itself, and the writer should listen to her voice; honor her wishes.
To accomplish all these goals, writing must have an effective presence—where sentences come with deep ideas and central messages that manifest in different images. This is the true meaning of lyrical poetry; even poetry that is narrative in nature and/or form [prose]—a “mosaic” system. In the mosaic system, sentences appear as mirrors, shards with a harmonious presence.
Although each word in the poem has an exchange capability between writer and reader, the soul always presses with central words in the poem that determine the general structure. These words stand out in the writing of each author with broad symbolic dimensions. In these areas of exchange between the writer/the text and the reader, the writer’s soul, an immensely deep and rich region, is discovered in the creative act unfolding. Consequently, the real presence is the creativity—the mirror of the complex mosaic.
Because of all these facets, poetry is truthful and honest; there is always meaning in the poem—even [especially] in a very abstract and symbolic/Symbolist poem.
The poem takes a long history in the world in which spirits work; it is a discovery of real human emotion[s]. When we read the poem, we experience human representation; therefore, poetry searches for the emotional aspect of the words and the world it reflects. Poetry is a state between consciousness and subconsciousness where ideas represent spiritual needs; thus, poetry is a kind of dream; a cloudy mirror of dreams.
When the poet utilizes prose as form/structural/textual narrative, he or she creates a very subtle complex system of mirrors; prose poetry is the greatest manifestation of poetry’s mirrored action. Poetry, as the art of aesthetic writing, raises our emotional, psychological, spiritual, and social ideas; thereby, enacting an amplified system of mirrors.
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the doors of life — digital artography
Digital expressionism is the other side of human creativity where colors speak. We usually hear that “words paint” in creative writing; here in digital expressionism, “colors speak.” Therefore, digital expressionism is not pure art;
it is a middle area between art and poetry—between talk and drawing; between writing and art.
— Preface from Abstract: Digital Artophotography (Inventive Publishing House, 2019)
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Anwer Ghani is an award-winning poet from Iraq, who was born in Babylon in 1973. His prose poetry has been published in over fifty literary journals and more than twenty anthologies in the US, UK, and Asia. He won the “World Laureate—Best Poet in 2017 from WNWU” and was nominated to Adelaide Award for poetry in 2018, and won the Rock Pebbles Literary Award and the award of United Spirit of Writers Academy for Poetry in 2019. Anwer is a religious scholar and nephrologist consultant and the author of more than eighty books; thirteen of which have been translated into English, including Narratolyric Writing (2016), Antipoetic Poems (2017), Mosaicked Poems (2018), and The Styles of Poetry (2019). Anwer is the Editor in Chief of ARCS Prose Poetry Magazine and Poetry Cloud. He resides in Baghdad.