Different Dialogues : Mr. Sameer Atiyeh

In conversation with Mr. Sameer Atiyeh, an International Poet of
Palestinian origin, based in Damascus, Syria.
Educational Background: Specialization in the Arabic language.

According to some, a true-blue poet is a philosopher who is emotive and can cry easily. I could almost see a lot of that while in conversation with Sameer Atiyeh. Mid-way between our dialogue, when I read out my poem: GAZA to him, the Palestinian poet held on to the lines of the verses by repeating them with me; after I finished reciting GAZA, he said, “I can cry. Yes, I am crying.”

It was actually a chance meeting between Sameer Atiyeh and me, courtesy Dr. Shihab Ghanem (the eminent Emirati Poet/Translator). Now as both of us sat over tea, coffee in a Mall of Sharjah, Sameer and myself necessarily struck notes on poetry, themes, individual reactions. The interview threw light on Sameer Atiyeh’s dedication to make the website: Palestine Poetry Home a stout symbol of fair recognition, whereby, he can focus on the varied concerns about his homeland – Palestine. “We need a place in the heart, and a place to write poetry about Palestine”, Sameer exclaimed with a fervent stress. “I want people to know about my home in the language of poetry.” Listening to the bard in him, I could not doubt that I was sitting with a person whose vocation presents him a gift of life with its every moment. With a ten year experience of having worked in Cultural Centres in Yemen and Syria, now Sameer Atiyeh is cherishing the dream of making the difference by the whole nature of collecting poems on Palestine in the Arabic & English language.

Born in Kuwait in 1972, Sameer Atiyeh was thoroughly encouraged by his parents to dwell in his passion of learning the Arabic language. His father would enchant him with poetry magazines and cultural supplements. Later, Sameer went to Yemen’s University of Sanaa for further studies in the discourse, where he met his wife, also of Palestinian origin, coming from Syria. Swiftly moving an accessory of his mobile, Sameer proudly showed the pictures of his kids and said, “You know, culture is like an open university which brings out poets and poetry and this is good for society’s future, for the countries, for the languages, for our heritage.” I was nodding in absolute agreement with Sameer’s views. I was thinking, when we are in a gap of difficulties, we can fight against them better, if we have a good grounding of cultural values. In many ways cultural values and spirituality go hand in hand. I asked him if issues will get resolved about territorial boundaries/Palestine-Israel relationship and he recited the example of Mahatma Gandhi who had a way with the Britishers and how! “We should contribute through our poems – regardless of our nationalities. It does not matter, whether we are Indians, Americans, Palestinians, Emiratis, Syrians or Egyptians. We should make something of our lives – by the way of peace and inter-linking culture,” Sameer replied.

Sameer Atiyeh’s working schedule includes updating international cultural news, looking after his publishing house, a great deal of travel to international conferences and seminars. What brought him to Dubai this time was the invitation from Abdul Aziz Saud Al-Babtain’s Poetry Foundation where Sameer was participating for the 3rd year in succession. Also, under the auspices of Rabitat Adab Eslami, (Islamic Culture) he has recited his poems in Yemen and Mauritania.

Sameer Atiyeh has several books to his credit. Among them, Diwan al Awda is a compilation of 100 Arab Poet’s verses describing about Palestine’s historical journey up to now from the past.

In 1977 Sameer visited his village in Palestine and stayed there for 2 months. Every time he spoke of his homeland, and Palestine’s city of ALQUDS – he is like an individual on alert who makes his business to be philosophical. He is sublime and vocal at the same time. There is nothing that can stop him claiming that culture and poetry are the best friends of mankind.

Q 1. What has been the turning point of your life?
A. The turning point of my life was going to Sanaa University in Yemen, to study advance Arabic language. I was able to inter-act with poets in Yemen.

Q 2. If you could go back in time, what would you want to do?
A. I would go back to College continuing studies in Arabic language for higher degree and higher knowledge.

Q 3. What are your future dreams?
A. My future dream is that Palestine Poetry Home becomes famous centre for culture and succeeds in connecting poetry with its messages to travel to different parts of the world.

For further information, check website: www.ppbait.org

Geeta Chhabra

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