Sunday, 23 October 2011

Omani poetry

Folk poetry origins - ballad and song - can be traced to the voice of ordinary people. Oman`s rich culture and its seafaring traditions are an inspiration for their poets throughout the ages. Its influence is felt in the work of modern Omani poets including Abdulhamid al Dawhani, Hilala al Hamdaniya and Ahmed bin Hilal Al-Abri. And its subject matter is still grounded in the the life of the everyday Omani.

The cultural history of Oman is not unaffected by other cultures. Portuguese explorers arrived in Oman and occupied Muscat for a 140-year period, between 1508 and 1648. And remnants of their colonial architectural style still remain. The Portuguese were evicted through indigenous revolt, but a century later, in 1741, forces from Yemen combined and took over led by an ancestor of the current ruling sultans. The Persians invaded briefly in the late 1740s, but Oman has been self-governing ever since.

Sa‘ida Khatir Bint al-Farsi is an Omani poet and academic born in 1956 who uses literature as a window into society and the forces — economic, political, and religious — that transform it.  Writing poetry, Sa‘ida says, has helped her understand Oman's progress since her own childhood.  Women access to the public sphere has been enhanced, as Sultan Qaboos’ massive development program stresseded the education of all citizens, female and male.  Sa‘ida quotes one of the Sultan’s most famous public statements: “We will educate our children, even if  we have to do it under the shade of trees.”

Other female Omani writers and poets include Tahirah bint Abdalkhaliq Al-lawatia, Ushra Khalfan Al-Wahybi, Badriyya Ash- Shahhi, the author of the first Omani novel, Zuwayna Khalfan At-Twayya and Rafia At-Talai.

Find out more in the book Modern poetry and prose of Oman 1970-2000 by Barbara Michalak-Pikulska (hard to get hold of - let me know if you are successful) and here

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