I Recall My Days With You


I recall my days with you
like someone sees things through the window of a fast train:
deserted and beautiful
impossible to grasp...

From one time to another
let's be children again
let's grieve without false pride

The day I die
I will think about that bright moment
when we stood in the darkness
on the porch of decision
You said hatefully: "I love you"
I will remember your voice

and death will come sweetly
will hold me like a womb of forgotten joy
and I will whisper in a similar hatred:

oh, how much I loved you.

By: Ghada Samman

Translated by: S. Maref

June 29th-2012

Let the good times roll!!!

Great times we had (me an a close friend of mine) last April 22nd, 2012 at Qasr Al-Manar. V&A Exhibition 'Street Art': from the Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Libya,  opened and held in Benghazi.


History with its flickering lamp stumbles along the trail of the past, trying to reconstruct its scenes, to revive its echoes, and kindle with pale gleams the passion of former days.  ~Winston Churchill

The photos are related to Al-Jumhuriya Hospital. Sabri neighborhood, Benghazi. The old photo has been captured in 1918, Murad El honi photo collection. The other recent photos were captured by me last month, February 2012, the focus was on the department of skin disease.


  أنور باشا

Enver Paşa 

  It's been said "a book is man's best friend", and here I'm discovering that again and again.

The whole thing started few days back by a last minute decision when I decided to join my dear people in a short trip, and because air planes make me worried and uncomfortable, it was a difficult task to distract my attention for two and a half hours.

Much too late to come by the old bookstore, as a matter of fact I was already planing to go there to bring books about Snussi method and The TOFEL exam,  but lately I had no time.

So it ended up with searching in my own home's library and three choices were there, "Too Long a Stranger" a novel by Janette Oke, "The Luck Factor" a book by Dr. Richard Wiseman, and lastly my most enjoyable book "Turco-Italian War, 1911-1912" translated and edited by Wajdi- Kadak and Dr. Imad Hatim.

We departed and quickly the symptoms knew their way, but I started telling myself to hold on, to forget about the phobia, the headache and the nausea, and to concentrate on my watch and the book.

I picked it, with the yellowish old pages, my favourite colour of pages, but very unattractive cover, ignoring my thoughts I started reading... The first line, the second, the third... I turned the first page, turned the second, the third etc and honestly I raised my head only when the air hostess asked me about the kind of drink I prefer with the lunch meal, just to find myself finished more than third of the book!

I hate Ghaddafi and I do regret every second we spent learning the void theory of his. I can't believe how much I do miss all the history classes that dictator stolen from us, and how for four decades his policy managed to disorient our minds, leaving the heroic treasured history of our ancestors and their supporters far behind.

The book was a collection of diaries, related to Turkish officers who supported the tribes during the Italian colonization and in fact contributed greatly in forming the Libyan army. Anwar Basha, an impressive personality who had much power over both Benghazi and Derna, has been really the best companion for me during those cold Jordanian nights.

I was totally detached by the narrative exciting pattern of the events and the stories, and added to my own happiness that a few Libyan bloggers have already mentioned this interesting character on their own blogs.

Now I'm trying hard not to finish the rest of the book, saving it for the returning flight, grateful for something called "Documentation", Ghaddafi couldn't stop.

A link to the book.

Amman, November 30th- 2011


The tyrant has gone, It's Friday 28th of October, 2011. More than 5 days since the declaration of liberating the whole Libyan land. Not much regarding the small tyrants Ghaddafi left behind has changed. It makes me wonder how heavy this anguish is.

During the celebration in of itself, I was happy but worried and the day next I took one of those life determining decisions.

Did the revolution and its aftermath contribute to change my life course? definitely they did, and not only me, many others.

Still as time passes, I became more confident that it's the true path, no matter I disagree with my dear people, eventually they will satisfy, because after all it's about finding myself not theirs.

A ballerina,
swirls around the wind


Free Haiku (C) S Maref

Recalling days of sadness, memories haunt me.  Recalling days of happiness, I haunt my memories.  ~Robert Brault

After months of being in a deep coma, much frustration, paper work, end of the internship and all these sad stories of applying to work, asking this and discussing that, I have just remembered that writing is the best therapy, the magic that heals any wounds, time to write down your thoughts GB!

It's the 4th of October, we are still waiting for the day of liberating the whole Libyan land, Sirt and Bin Walid certainly took longer time than been expected, it said all the problems will be solved when the NTC makes that announcement.

Speaking about myself I'm currently thinking only of tomorrow, the morrow of dignity, the morrow of good social service, job opportunities and freedom of speech, but I can't deny how those dictators Kaddfi left behind are still dominating, gladly the protest on 24th of September taught me how to release some of this anger and perhaps directing it into some kind of positive power... Relief is just one more step, we have to have faith in this!

Beautiful Benghazi, crowded, wounded and still opening her hands to the displaced persons from everywhere... No fanaticism here, only love.

 In the new Libya, the voices risen and it's becoming so expected to hear from everyone, not excluding the average who might be grateful without much considering for what lies beneath. The picture taken on May 1st.

The biscuit was a reward from one of the bystanders for taking few minutes directing the traffic!

A real patients' file, probably he wasn't aware when they filled his data in a hurry, as it shown he was from Musrata, picture taken in Al Jala hospital May 29th.

May the spark of the revolution blaze forever.

يوم تحررت بنغازي


لازلت أذكر ذلك النهار الذهبي وذلك المشهد اللذي ربما كان بعيد كل البعد عن خيال الكثير من الليبيين ولا أستثني نفسي. الإثنين الواحد والعشرين من فبراير وعلي تمام الثامنة والربع صباحا. بنغازي عروس بشهدائها تتنفس حرية وكرامة في ثوب جديد. بنغازي خرجت من غياهب الجهل والتخلف وستدخل بليبيا عهد الإستقلال عن الطغاة مرة ثانيه لأن هذه المدينة الفاضلة  نواة لثوره لن تنساها الشعوب وسيخلدها التاريخ.كنت في طريقي لمستشفي الجمهورية وبالتحديد عناية القلب... ما حركني بشده أن هدوء يشوبه الحزن كان يلف ذلك الصباح ويغمر الطرقات الخاوية بالرغم من مظاهر الإحتفالات في الليلة السابقة لذلك اليوم.  وماهي إلا لحظات حتي وصلت إللي الكونيش وجزيرة الدوران وإذ بأب فاضل وثلاث شابات يحملون علما ذو ثلاث ألوان ويلوحون لي عبر زجاج السياره أتراهم كانو يتنشقون نسائم أنوفنا لم تعهدها من قبل؟ أم أنها البهجة بارتفاع راية لم تألفها العيون؟... صورة تلك الراية لم أرها سابقا إلا بين طيات أوراق والدي رحمة الله عليه، أوراق  صفراء وصور قديمه لشيخ سنوسي لايفوت ذكاء القاريء أن يعلم من هو... استحضرت في ذاكرتي مشهد ذلك الأب وبناته في اليومين السابقين عندما قرأت مقالة في إحدي جرائد الحرية للتعريف بمعاني الألون في علمنا علم الإستقلال ذلك العلم اللذي شعرنا بانتماء روحي له دون جهد يذكر، وبحسرة تعتصر القلب تذكرت كل الشعارات البائسه وذلك القسم الفارغ كلمات رددناها لسنوات دراسية طويلة لاأعلم دون وعي أم دون إكتراث تمجديا للون ونهج لا يمثلان إلا عقيدة قذافية الليبيون الأحرار بُراء منها. سنوات طوال دُفنا أحياءً ولكننا الآن سنكون مثالا للعالم لأن الدرس كان قاس والثمن كان باهض و لإن هذه الصحوة ليس كمثلها صحوة ولأن الوعي مابعد السفاح جعلنا ندرك تماما أين كُنا وكيف غُيبنا و ماهي أدوارنا الحقيقية كأصحاب رأي ودعاة حريات في دولة مدنية ديمقراطية بإذن الله...

كتبت يوم 9-5-2011



Another Passing Memory!

and you find it, that road "taken or not taken" and it is becoming clearer day after day, not because you are encouraged regardless the mood, the position and the place you are in , but because you are discovering yourself, capabilities and attitudes and you start excluding and excluding, waiting impatiently to include what might draw your attention...

Celebrating the Prophet
Muhammad's Birthday,

Rabi' al-awwal, the third

month in the Islamic


Free Verses VS Prose

This is one of the most controversial topics regarding the literary writings, a subject that most of the native poets themselves disagree about.

I remember about 4 years back, B. S. who is one of the well known Philadelphian poets and editors I learned from, was keep saying that "poetry draws a picture while prose tells about the picture"... I think that was a simple golden rule to differentiate, later on as we grow as writers we realize that the skills we use, the pattern in of itself could be interpreted as poetic in the manner of prose and vice versa... Recently I discussed this interesting topic with one of the ESL colleagues, I do like his informative thoughts and point of view so I quoted few lines of his...

("Free verse" occupies that part of the prose/poetry continuum which has "blank verse" on the one side and "prose poetry" on the other.

Blank verse is an unrhymed sequence of iambic pentameters (e.g. as in Milton's Paradise Lost). Other similar forms are not very common in English poetry; but examples in German might be the unrhymed tetrameters of Goethe and Heine. (I exclude unrhymed Greek and Latin verse, as this is constructed by length of syllable, not stress.)

Prose poetry on the other hand has the heightened diction, repetitions, rhythmic recurrences, emotive content, etc. that we are accustomed to find in poetry, but it is presented as prose and organized by the paragraph, not by the line or block of lines. An example would be the Dream Fugue of De Quincey; cf. also the prose poems of Baudelaire and Rimbaud.

Between them you find "free verse". This is sometimes fully or partly rhymed, and loosely based upon standard metrical units (as in the free verse of T.S. Eliot); but more commonly the rhythm varies from line to line, or at least between groups of lines, as in the Cantos of Ezra Pound, or the poems of William Carlos Williams and D.H. Lawrence.

The line-breaks are significant in free verse, by the way, because once you discard regularities of rhythm and rhyme, you are left with very few ways of emphasizing particular words or phrases. Words at the beginning and end of a line seem more significant to the reader; and when free verse is read aloud, line-ends are also where the natural pauses occur (another form of emphasis).

The result is that writers of free verse tend towards a presentation in which the distribution of lines reflects the syntax.

Alternatively, they may well insert line-breaks in unusual places, for effect.
I would speculate that when readers see a page where the text is laid out in a verse-like fashion, they tend to read that text in a different manner - more slowly and more carefully, perhaps, and with different expectations of the likely content.

People are accustomed to read prose (on the other hand) at greater speed, and perhaps with less attention to the aural qualities.

Thus original manuscripts of e.g. Italian poets of the Renaissance (Cavalcanti, for instance), which are laid out in a prose-like fashion, can perplex the modern reader.
From the Poetics of Aristotle and the Ars Poetica of Horace to the Imagists of the early 20th century and beyond, writers on literary theory have tended to emphasize the importance of imagery in poetry. Then too, prose that is overburdened with imagery might be felt to be too "poetic".

It might be worth looking at the words with which you end your lines, though. If there is a predominance of less important words, such as articles, adverbs, prepositions, or forms of the verb "to be", it could well give an impression of prosiness. )

"The Road Not Taken"

Robert Frost on his own poetry:

"One stanza of 'The Road Not Taken' was written while I was sitting on a sofa in the middle of England: Was found three or four years later, and I couldn't bear not to finish it. I wasn't thinking about myself there, but about a friend who had gone off to war, a person who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn't go the other. He was hard on himself that way."

Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, 23 Aug. 1953

As I mentioned before, perhaps the English literature has always been my field of interest, still I'm just an amateur who is much interested in enjoying the language per se rather than analyzing it.
So I used to read some of the classic pieces, grasping the general meaning, recognizing the poetic techniques, enjoying without much search or study in details, I believe and I was taught that "The Interpretation" is a matter of individuality, each according to their own insight and way of thinking.

But in the previous couple of days, I come across some kind of analysis for Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken" ... I was indeed interested, somehow all of us can relate to the deep meaning of this enormous writing, besides, I found this feedback to be one of  the most truthful and convincing literary analyzing studies and that is why I wanted to include it on my own page.

Just follow the link.

One Genuine Smile...

"B" one of the lovely patients admitted to the ward during my training this month December 2010

How soothing to start recalling the good things we gained, the positive outcome of the aftermath, finding ourselves grasping things we could never learn in better conditions.

Writing "Haiku" has always been a real challenge to me, I feel like it would only be unique, original and penned well by minority of professional people, so despite all the forms I wrote for the last three years, never dared to try writing it.

Lately, and out of the blue, I come across  a very gentle group related to writing only "Haikus" the modern and the traditional... Without much hesitation or previous gathering of my thoughts, I found myself writing on their wall, sharing with them experience in an elegant format of three lines... Wow!

I couldn't be strict toward the syllable count, but at least I could give it that eastern imprint, which is meanwhile pretty satisfactory.

It might be a Japanese culture, still the joy it brings makes it universal and worth living throughout the generations.

and once, during desperate moments,  you realized achieving something you couldn't do for a long time, wouldn't that deserve "one genuine smile"?

~A delicate rose,

memories drifting,

alas, November rain~

 and she was wondering about my smile!

You are so realistic, practical, fully grasping the over all strategy, the announced and the hidden, tolerant to a great extent, yet you seek for something else, or let's say few things more than the average, more than what's on the surface... Time passes and what you find turns to be far less than what should have been expected from the beginning, and by the way we are not speaking here about material stuff rather than a mind-related stuff!

In the middle of this dilemma, beyond all the frustration, she emerged, strong in her delicacy, confident not arrogant, fluent without frills, all the ears just listening, willing to receive what was obviously distinguished, no comments, no side talking...

For almost half an hour I spent the time listening to her comfortable and smiling widely, she looked at me asking about my name and about something has to do with the topic she was explaining, and then said "smiling people do impress me" , and I was about to say "you do deserve such smiles, lady, thanks a million for making this day different than the previous"...

Time To Bake!

Can't describe the way I feel about the last couple of months, it what took me away from my writing, which I do miss...

That day I saw a status by a friend, a quote by Frost about life, it says : "It goes on"... It stroked for awhile, for sometimes by just a glance over the calendar or a quote like this one, we realize it's been so long and probably it's time for a heart to heart talk, counting what remains.
For some reason I was in the mood of baking this noon, I realized lately that it relieves me a bit, a thing I didn't know about myself before... Smoothly prepared the ingredients and without much thinking about the banana itself (for seemingly my mind was trying to guide me toward using the date instead) the loaf was in the oven, and after exactly one hour it was baked... Yes that wave of pleasure was much overwhelming!

Banana Loaf

My small achievement for today is a material to write about, simply because it triggered my pen and perhaps it's unintentional stimulus from my cerebrum to celebrate publishing my poetry forms next month... I don't know, but just pretty sure that I'm more than glad today for baking as well as for writing again.

Through The Eyes Of Eluard

Once more, and by just a chance, another one happened to prove that I'm just a beginner in the field of poetry... No shame, for the process of learning and grasping what we are interested in is not stagnant, and it's us,  indeed,  who enrich ourselves by our behavior, reading and sharing thoughts with the others...

Who haven't heard about the triad, Eluard, Gala and Dali?... So many of the latter's paintings were inspired by the lady, and I have always been a fond of "Galatea of the spheres"
particularly, his genius mind inspired me to write my first metaphysical poem, it's said that the painting is related to his interest in decoding the human genome, scientific researches carried out regarding this during the period of 1950, still his emotions were the entry to his thoughts in that art work.

Back to Eluard, who didn't get much of my attention for years, I knew that he was a poet, yet,  never bothered reading any of his pieces, I don't know why, unintentional bias toward Dali?... Perhaps!
And someday, speaking about the painting, Gala and Dali, I was asked if I read any of Eluard's poems, and when I said no, the same person who asked supplied me with a verse as delicate and classy as Neruda's... At that time, so many sensation I had, one of them the feeling of being blind, precisely without any exaggeration, for I knew him but never read for him, while his works absolutely worth reading... And a new poetic journey has begun, probably discovering who Gala is, through the eyes of Eluard.

If I speak it’s to hear you more clearly
If I hear you I’m sure to understand you

If you smile it’s the better to enter me
If you smile I will see the world entire

If I embrace you it’s to widen myself
If we live everything will turn to joy

If I leave you we’ll remember each other
In leaving you we’ll find each other again. 

Certitude, by Paul Eluard

Writing Letters - everlasting joy.

I consider myself one of those admirers of the art of writing and exchanging letters, still enjoying doing it till this moment,  and I'm speaking about holding a pen, paper and an envelope near me, not about text messages or typing e-mails.

Something evocative and soulful about facing the lines, drifting with the thoughts, exposing the mind without any discomfort, without any frills, it's almost a detaching unto another realm...
One of the beautiful things happened to me years ago that I met an unforgettable English teacher, and still amazes me how in real life we could never initiate a conversation, while through exchanging letters, we discovered and influenced each other greatly...

Another close friend of mine, miles and miles away, we've been writing since 1997, and till now, though the cell phone fever, the simplicity of fast communication via the messenger and the electronic mails, we are insisting proudly to keep things between us the way they are... In so many cold nights and rough circumstances, such letters, such treasure can softly lift the spirit and ease the mind.
Those little things in our lives, should not be affected by the modernity or the advanced technology, should not be preys of the time, for despite being little things, they are of great positive imprint over us, bringing so much joy.

~But everything that may someday be possible for many people, the solitary man can now, already, prepare and build with his own hands, which make fewer mistakes. Therefore, dear Sir, love your solitude and try to sing out with the pain it causes you. For those who are near you are far away, you write, and this shows that the space around you is beginning to grow vast. And if what is near you is far away, then your vastness is already among the stars and is very great; be happy about your growth, in which of course you can't take anyone with you, and be gentle with those who stay behind; be confident and calm in front of them and don't torment them with your doubts and don't frighten them with your faith or joy, which they wouldn't be able to comprehend...Quoted from "Letters to a young poet" by Rilke, letter 4.

Solace - or something like it.

In fact what triggered my pen this time is a quote I recognized that someone used it as a signature, it says : " There is a kind of mysticism to writing" by "Irvine Welsh" , who is a British novelist by the way...
For some reason that quote enlightened a soft spot on my mind, evoking my memories and thoughts about writing poetry, I can't really define the kind of solace, the oblivion, the lost spirit, the reverie, or perhaps the mysticism, as Welsh calling it and we, without an explanation, find in writing, but at least I'm pretty sure that it's a gift, something the Almighty blessed us with, it should be nourished from soul, polished by the logic, cherished by the heart.

Speaking about the lost spirit we are seeking for with the help of the pen and the paper, I wanted to add few delicate lines by "Rainer Maria Rilke", a part of a poem dedicated to "Lou Andreas" and translated by A. Poulin... I still remember years ago, they were the candle of my inspiration to start scribbling my thoughts.
I found them in Arabic and started searching for the original version, still I believe I'd have enjoyed such verses much more, if I spoke his native language.

~Longing leads out too often
into vagueness.
Why should I cast myself, when,
for all I know,
your influence falls on me gently,
like moonlight on a window seat.

It's obvious that his muse led him unto a poetic drift, a form of healing light that emanated from his own words, guiding across the sea of the words to come up with a complete state of literary expression (solace?), hopefully for us as well, it could be reached.

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875 – 1926) was a Bohemian–Austrian poet and art critic. He is considered one of the most significant poets in the German language. 

Asinus aureus - Close reading


كلما ذكر اسم "أبوليوس" في مصدر من المصادر ، أو مجلس من المجالس، قفزت إلي الأذهان مباشرة صورة ذلك "الجحش الذهبي" العجيب وهو يمرح هنا وهناك ، يمر بمغارة ليدخل أخري ، وينتقل من مكان لآخر، يختزن في ذاكرته المدهشة ما صادفه من قصص وأحداث ، ليرويها فيما بعد للأجيال ويسجلها أثرا من أخلد الآثار الأدبية في العالم

When I thought about blogging this subject, I hesitated for a while, for I'm neither literary analyzer, nor a critic, but eventually, decide to highlight my own thoughts, for after all it's about sharing and the material is surely worthy.
Few days back I was complaining of boredom or precisely, let's say a strange feeling to possess something... Deep inside,  I knew what therapy is needed,  probably a visit to that traditional bookstore in the old streets of Benghazi, a place full of treasures and joy, a place where you smell only an almost faded aroma of a very beautiful cultural era... There I could break the routine and find the kind of solace I was seeking for.
I couldn't go, so many circumstances beyond control,  instead, and ironically, a book in my own library was recommended to me, and from there much astonishment and a desire to document this,  emanated.

The book is melodiously fabled in origin, a collection of tales penned in a very coherent diction, translated by Dr. Ali Fahmi khusaim.
At first and honestly, I had so many doubts that I might enjoy such reading, not because of its fairy contents, but because I do admire the material the way it was originally written, translation is a great responsibility, you can translate the words but not the feelings, which ultimately weakens the essence in of itself,  a well known fact to all of us, and in the late ten years, the manipulation regarding the copy rights and translating so many books and novels  unprofessionally, "mundane job"  just for financial purposes and commercial issues,  made me losing trust and passion, preferring only the original edition, no matter how attractive the cover was!
But surprisingly, I don't even recall reading a book that has excited me as much as this novel, and here a close reading was needed, as I have shown at the introduction of this article.
Dr. khusaim, using perfect Arabic language, highly intellectual abilities, telling about series of adventures, related to the hero "Lucius Apuleius", the same name of the original author himseld, before, during and after his metamorphosis unto "Golden Ass\Asinus aureus", and by working on one of the most difficult branches of universal literature "The Classical Mythology",  he could successfully create the atmosphere of the whole fantasy.
The book is written in latin by Apulius - who is from Madaurus - and translated to English so many times by so many poets and writers,  but this Arabic version adopted from the English edition by Robert Graves, making it a visual rather than just a read, something all of your senses enjoy immensely, drama, fed up with morals, true life experience and lessons despite of its imaginary basics, all reached by our translator's vivid details, interesting style of narration and profound perspective.

You read and just read, and feel like it's written in Arabic in the first place, that is the essence, the spirit, the feelings I was speaking about earlier, and they are the clues about this charming book... How sorrowful, it was published in 1980 and I have just read it, in  2010!

I'm not and could never underestimating the original script, nor revised the other Arabic versions, still in doubt that they might -at least for my own taste- be as exquisite as such version specifically by this remarkable writer,  one of the most admirable characters of our Libyan literary community.

Dr. Ali Fahmi khusaim, one of the greatest Libyan writers, born in Misurata, 1936, obtained high scientific degrees in  philosophy, University of Durham - United  Kingdom and his works have been extended to cover broad areas such history, language, literary criticism, translation, creative fiction and poetry.

my read shelf:
Maref's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

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