Monday, January 11, 2010

on the road to Baalbek part 5, or seeing Venus with new eyes

"At that time the earth was so high up
women hung out clouds and laundry on the same line
angels gripped their skirts to keep them from following stray souls"

~ Venus Khoury-Ghata

Can you imagine hanging your laundry at the edge of the Qannoubin (Kadisha) Valley? I love hanging laundry out on a sunny day, so Khoury-Ghata's poem spoke to my laundry-loving soul. It seems the Qadisha Valley keeps returning to me. This holy valley is a World Heritage Site. The people who live along its parameters have Her holiness in their bones and souls, and it comes out in the most creative ways.

The above poetic except is from the English language translation of Venus Khoury-Ghata's poem for noha al hegelan. Yesterday, I was doing some reading on Khoury-Ghata, who is one of the Lebanese poets I am introducing to the students in my class on the writings of Arab women. Khoury-Ghata was born in Bsharre (which is also the birthplace of Khalil Gibran). I did not know that about Venus when we traveled along the edges of the Qannoubin Valley, passing Bsharre on our way to Baalbek, but now that I know that, I have to re-read all her poems!


tasteofbeirut said...

The comment you left on my post on Kamal Mouzawak blew me away! I am so intrigued by a finnish-canadian woman who knows Sami Zuarayk (sorry I am butchering his name) he is next on my list to be interviewed; I did a post on a book he wrote. Anyway, now I want to read Venus Khoury thanks to you!
and I want to explore the Kadeesha valley and spend a few days in a monastery there!

northshorewoman said...

I look forward to reading your interview with him and looking up your earlier post on his book. I noticed he has a new book posted on his blog, Plants and People, that is co-authored. There are beautiful coloured sketchings of plants on the cover.

I found his blog as I am interested in understanding the effects of the push to neoliberal polices, which Lebanon struggles with, like many other nations. I'm also interested in class as a structuring hierarchy of societies. I come from a village.

My origins are rural, peasant class. My white skin allowed me passage to Canada when north Europeans were welcomed in; we didn't even have to speak the language or have a dollar in our pocket. Now, forget it. My family would never be allowed to immigrate.

Plus I am interested in our complicities in consumer culture and looking at how we can do things to challenge and change predatory capitalism. So I see bits of myself all over the place.