Like saying the smell
of a sharpened pencil
is how it works—
the words made
real because I know
them, like seeing
the person who in a dream
I knew all my life
and when I woke,
was gone forever;
what was briefly felt
does not vanish.
—an excerpt from ‘What is Mine’, by Hayan Charara
President John F. Kennedy said “when power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” Hayan Charara is a poet.
The Michigan native is an author, editor and a 2009 recipient of a $25,000 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship. He also is a doctoral candidate at the UH Creative Writing Program.
Poetry to him allows him to re-imagine the place where he lives in ways that are helpful to him and, he’s hopeful, helpful to others as well.
“It’s artistic, it’s a political thing sometimes, it’s a social act,” he said. “I think of my poems as engaging in a conversation with other people,” he said.
Charara wrote 2001’s “The Alchemist’s Diary” and 2006’s “The Sadness of Others.” He also edited the recently released “Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry.” Common themes and topics presented in his works focus on culture, family relationships and loss of loved ones.
Poetry, he says, helps to peel away the rhetoric we’re told, sharpen the images we’re shown, make sense of the conflicts abroad that touch people we love.
“The moment we see people as human beings and not as subjects in the news, for instance, we see the world a bit differently, and this is the one thing that poetry does remarkably well,” he said.
The Creative Writing Program is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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