An interview with Egyptian poet Abdul Rahman Yusuf

He’s an Egyptian poet who realized his poetic gift amidst the massacre of qana in Lebanon. The young poet realized his gift at a very early age He published his first collection when he was only 22. What really makes his poetry special is his desire to make his poems a reflection of reality. He’s an Egyptian poet who went to Lebanon in the aftermath of the massacre of qana. When he wanted to write a poem about Lebanon, he went to southern Lebanon where the massacre of qana took place so that he can experience everything himself. He’s the Egyptian young poet Abdul Rahman Yusuf I asked him: it is not a difficult thing to write poetry these days, but it is a hard thing to be a real poet. What does that mean to you to be a poet? And when did you realize that for the first time? -poetry to me is a lifestyle. It is not like some sort of an institution in which poets work every day from 8 to 4, and then go back to resume their normal life. Poetry is something that occupies the poet’s whole time and “privatizes” all of the poet’s feelings and emotions so that he becomes a real poet who can write things that affect people  and reach to bottom of the human soul. Writing rhymed words;  however, is simple, but it doesn’t make you a real poet. -when was the first time you said “I am a poet”?  -People used to call me that since high school, but I didn’t call myself one till I was in college.  -Tell us the story of your first collection “The Bleeding Letters”? -This collection was written in a very early stage of my life, most of its poems were written during my college years. It has a special place among my collections as I still receive comments on the poems in it till now. As a matter of fact it was my best-selling collection till recently. -Most of your poems deal with political subjects and we notice how daring you are in criticizing the current situation in the Arab world. would you call yourself a student of the Iraqi poet Ahmed Matar? – I like Ahmed Matar, but my style is different than his  -When you write a poem, who do you write to? -First of all, I write for my own self, I also write for the simple readers who read my collection while in bed trying to sleep, who eventually identify with my poems and decide to keep reading instead of sleeping.   -You decided to go to Lebanon in order to write a poem about the war there. Tell us about this experience? -My poem “writing the history of tomorrow” is the longest poem I have written till now. It is a very special poetic experience. I started writing it even before the 2006 war on Lebanon, but I couldn’t keep writing because it is based on a man who visits the places where battles took place and he interviews the southern people who witnessed them. And that is what happened in reality. I went to south Lebanon a few days after the war ended and I visited the suburbs and cities. I met the fighters and the martyr’s families and I received a warm welcome. When I got back to Egypt, I was deeply touched by this visit and it affected me for more than two months. I wrote on daily basis, then returned to qana and filmed a video clip which I wrote and composed about the massacre. Eventually, I finished the poem and I published the collection, and paid another visit to south Lebanon to recite my poems to the people there. I received a very warm welcome. -How would you describe your meeting with Egyptian novelist Naguib Mahfooz ? -God rests his soul, I met him after publishing my collection “a toast to the homeland”, which was well received. Egyptian novelist Gamal al Ghitany invited me to meet Mr. Mahfouz and dedicate a copy of my collection to him, I also recited some of my poems in front of him and he praised them a lot. 

-What is your ambition? and what is your biggest achievement? -This is the hardest question. My ambition is to keep writing deep and moving poems until the last day of my life. I don’t care much about money or fame or awards. What really concerns me is that I will keep writing till the end of my life. If I stopped writing, I will be in a state of private cell or physiological torment.

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