I Am What I Art – Fadwa Al Qasem



I lean
Against an imaginary wall
Some of me is still running
A distant lull
Of fast train on humming tracks
My fragile secrets
Reach up and hide the stars.

I light my imaginary
It makes this imaginary soul
For a moment
One transient inhale at a time.

I still write, paint, create art, imagine
And yes, I dare to giggle
Only because
I don’t know
What wounds my sadness would heal.


So Many

So many people
On that dinghy
So many
And you.

You tried
To make your body
Smaller still.

You tried
To still your body

So close you sat
You could not tell
Was it your body shaking
Or that of someone else.

You imagined
Strange creatures below
For your fall
Strange creatures
Waiting on land
Strange land.

You imagined waiting
All land is strange
Now you’ve left home.

You imagined
Just letting yourself
Becoming salt
Fodder for the froth
Of one angry sea.

So many people
So many
And you.


An interview with Fadwa Al Qasem
When did you start writing?
I started writing when I was 14. That’s what I thought for a while. But when I dig deeper, I remember that I have been writing in my journal since much younger than that. And I remember my words getting published in school newsletters and magazines.
I remember writing a poem about a little girl who loved pink. I was 10.
I wrote in English for a very long time. My schooling was mostly in English and I obtained my BA in the UK in English literature. When I was older, I went on a long journey of reclaiming my Arabic language. I started with reading my children’s school books and doing crosswords, and went on to reading children’s and teen literature, until finally I was able to read and fully appreciate Naguib Mahfouz and other big names in the world of Arabic literature.
Somewhere around 2004 I started writing short stories in Arabic which were published in UAE, Cairo, Beirut, Jerusalem, London and USA.
I published my first collection of short stories in 2005. I was 42.
So when did I start writing?

How do you define poetry?
The word poetry comes from the ancient Greek “ποιεω” pronounced “poieo” which means “I create”. This makes perfect sense to me because creativity and art in all its forms are basic human needs. Our history has shown that we have a deep desire to create and to tell our stories through what we create. The beauty of poetry is that it refuses to be defined and that it continues to morph and change as we run after its tail, trying to pin it down somewhere. We are all poets – cliché? But I believe we all have poetry inside us, despite the differences in the way we express it and despite how it may be received.
I believe we create poetry because poetry is the warm rain on the dry soil of our lives.

You are involved in the HunnaLadies, who are they?
HunnaLadies is a group of 15 women writers living in the UAE but from different backgrounds and writing in different genres. I am one of the founding members, but Huuna was the brain child of Sahar Naja Mahfouz. Many of us have won awards or participate in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. We do several activities such as our stories blog, workshops to empower women, art exhibitions, reading in the park, and more.


Fadwa Al Qasem: Author. Artist. Creative Translator. Self-expressionist. A restless woman with a gypsy spirit. A refugee by inheritance. A Palestinian with a Canadian citizenship born in Libya. Fadwa wrote in English only from the age of 12 until 1999 when inspiration came in Arabic. Her Arabic short stories appeared in Akhbar Al Adab (Cairo), Al Adab Magazine (Beirut), Al Bayan, Literature (Dubai), Al Quds Al Arabi (London), Al Quds (Jerusalem), and Banipal (London). She published three collections: Ra’ihat Hab Al-Hal (Cairo 2005), La’that Alkhrouj min Aljanna (Cairo 2011), and Paradise No More (Dubai 2015); she translated Scents of Marie-Claire by Habib Salemi (Cairo 2010) and Tomorrow I Sew My Mouth by Bassem El Rayyes. Her short stories in English were part of two anthologies Madinah, Comma Press (UK 2008), and In Our Own Words - A Generation Defining Itself – Vol 7 (USA 2007). Her artwork was included in A World of Artist Journal Pages (USA 2015).

Artwork by Fadwa Al Qasem

Art Journaling Sessions 
I Am What I Art - art manifesto

2013-02-09 17 04 34Italiano