ملاحظات حول شعر العامية المصرية فى السبعينات / Notes on Egyptian Vernacular Poetry Since the Seventies


Magid Yusuf



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يوسف, ماجد; Yusuf, Magid

Document Type

Research Article

Publication Title

Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[This article is written by an Egyptian vernacular poet who belongs to what is commonly called the generation of the seventies. The author starts by contrasting folk literature and formal literature arguing that the first was always a stream of subversion while the second followed the path of conformity. This is the reason that vernacular poetry is antagonistic to the reverence for traditions. It is not surprising, according to the author, to find that the vernacular poet Sayyid Higab is closer to modernism and revolt than his peers who wrote in the classical idiom. But the vernacular poet faces a number of challenges that spring from the over-simplified view that sees vernacular poetry as a vehicle of the everyday life of the simple folk and is thus devoid of complexity and depth of vision. This view is quite opposed -- in the author's opinion -- to the true nature of art; since vernacular language -- as any other language -- is able to acquire an aesthetical dimension if used poetically. Thus the vernacular poet is able to adapt his language to the needs and constraints of modern poetry, just as his peer in the classical idiom does. His generation, the author explains, was shattered by the 1967 disaster and tried to find a medium through which to express the angst of this agonizing event. Some vernacular poets who rose to the challenge failed because of an inclination towards romanticism, lyricism, aphorism and common wisdom. The modern vernacular poem was high lighted by Sayyid Higab in his diwan The Fisherman and the Jinniyya. He was able to weave the great discoveries of the Socialist poets such as Aragon, Eluard and Neruda into the originality of folk legacy. The author-poet acknowledges his debt to the early works of Higab, the works of Fu'ad Haddad and Salah Jahin. He also points out the specificity, strength and weakness of each of them. The vernacular language, the author asserts, is able to combine both the freshness of the poetical experience and the pleasure of discovering the world. It is also a historical vehicle that carries the legacy of folk art and is able to renew itself. The vernacular poet is, therefore, not a second class citizen in the world of art.]

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