Interviews on “poetry & refugees” – 3 – Ali Al Jallawi
Ali Al-Jallawi was born in Bahrain in 1975. He lives in Berlin today.
Lyrikline Blog (LB): Where do you come from and why did you leave your country of origin?
Ali Al-Jallawi (AA): I’m from Bahrain, and I left my country back in 2011, when I felt unsecure. When the Bahraini regime announced the emergency law in the state, the Saudi and the Emirati troops invaded the streets of Bahrain, they were responsible of suppressing the protests, arresting protesters and killing people on the streets, I broke away from home to live a life.
LB:In your view, is it the task of a poet also to be a chronicler or witness of his/her time?
AA: The poet is a mirror which reflects what is around him, reflects what he feels, what affected him, and what aspires him. He might be a witness, but without having the obligation of being one.
LB: What impact on society or politics can a poem have? Do oppressive regimes have to fear poetry?
AA: The tyrannies are terrified of everything that is beautiful, anything that provokes freedom, or incites erosion of their area of influence. The real poem consciously or unconsciously exposes and uncovers these systems, with a direct or indirect language. The dictator loves poetry that praises him, but he arrests the poet who (instigates hatred of the regime). In Bahrain this is a fact and not a metaphor, as this is an accusation. In 1994 I was arrested, with charges of a poem, although I didn’t reach the age of seventeen yet.
LB: In your view, is there a relation between the power of the words of a poet and that of a dictator, since they both work with language?
AA: Dictatorship, Freedom, Justice are all words, their presence in the dictionary as a reflection of their meanings in reality. The word is the only weapon that continues shooting even when it’s owner died, and it is considered to be the most dangerous weapon known to mankind. With it you can make love or war, freedom or slavery. The relation between the words of a poet and a dictator is similar to an axe in the hands of farmer, where it is a tool for plowing the land, and in the hands of a murderer, where it is a tool for killing. They both use the same tool, but in a different way.
LB: How did time in prison influence your writing?
AA: Isolation inherited wisdom and madness. I do not know how the prison impacted my experience, but I know that the prison still lives under my skin, as much as I know that I carried my country with me in my luggage.
Read and listen to Ali Al Jallawi’s poetry on lyrikline.