Saturday, July 6, 2013

Poeticians' launch of Nietzsche's Camel Must Die by Rewa Zeinati

After a few months away, The Poeticians returned to new old haunt Sublime last Sunday to launch Dubai-based Poetician Rewa Zeinati's book Nietzsche's Camel Must Die.

A couple of poets made their debuts, reading their own pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia to marriage, while relatively new Poeticians Lara Matossian-Roberts and Fiona Patterson entertained us with philosophical and comedic verse, respectively. We also got to witness theatrical readings by Jamal Iqbal, some of Zeina H. Beck's excellent poetic oration (and dark humor), and originals by Hind Shoufani and Dana Dajani that hit you right in the feels.

Rewa Zeinati

Zeinati and a number of other long-time Poeticians took turns reading out of the book that night. I did not have enough time to read all of it yet, but what I have read so far was enjoyable reading.

As would be expected from what is essentially a compilation of a poet's Facebook notes, the book consists of flourishing elaborations on thoughts about random incidents in daily life, and perspectives on then-current events and topics. It's not textbook verse, certainly; those who seek a more observational sort of poetry will appreciate of it.

The notes are formatted as informal commentary, and occasionally as letters, in language and structure that's easy to follow. They are not titled either, being listed by number/date instead. Some are a few lines long, while others run into a few pages. Since all the notes are dated, one can often see their context in a timeline; for example, the notes at the turn of a year about Christmas-related things. That and other nuances lend it an added authenticity.

There is no overarching theme, but Zeinati's home country, Lebanon, makes an appearance now and then, and so do feminist perspectives. There are alsp notes about family and childhood - hers or others'. Some of the notes read as stories, and some others as observations sans narrative. Some start as one and blend into the other.

The choice of topics indicates the kind of keen observation and analytical skill that can pick out absurdity from the otherwise mundane, and (usually) successfully develop some fact/news/encounter into a disquisition about something much bigger. Many of the notes would not be out of place as opening voice-overs for the acts in a biographical sitcom. There is also something for those who like playing with words. I look forward to finishing this book.

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