The Kuwaiti poet Dr Khalifa Al-Wegayyan.
A Kuwaiti poet of reason, serenity

Poetry is the voice of the imagination captured by a talented writer transforming it into evoking, ordered and rhyming phrases beckoning a blend of the power and beauty of a language combined into untrodden, scintillating and towering horizons. Written tales might portray aspects of a nation, a community or a historical phase, but poetry seems to transcend these limitations to hover elusively into a world of wonder and charm. The imagery trapped in ordered word structures and musically rhythmic sentences simply awaken a world with dreamlike sensations and heartfelt elation.
It certainly takes an exceptionally talented, sensitive and highly informed writer to unfold the secrets and wonders of his or her language in order to write unforgettable poetry. Much has been said about poetry and what are the effects it has on a person’s perception of the world around him and of himself. The renowned Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), the dramatist, novelist and poet wrote about the influence of poetry - among other factors - on man, he said “Man ought to hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly affairs may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.” However, the skill of writing poetry is not left to hover astray without certain sensed and felt orderly pattern that governs the flow of words.

Defines
Robert Graves (1895-1985), the British author and classical scholar defines a poet as he who “... should master the rules of grammar before he attempts to bend or break them.” On the other hand, the famous poet John Keats (1795-1821), who is considered one of the key romantic poets along with Lord Byron (1788-1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) who is known for his elaborate word choice and imagery especially in a series of odes that remain popular poetic masterpieces and other poets have written about poetry and its significance. Keats, for example, identified poetry as such, “Poetry should please by a fine excess and not by singularity. It should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost as a remembrance.”
In the Arabian peninsula, where the particularities of its topography and its deep-rooted history have jointly helped to shape and mold its truly opulent and diverse literary legacy in both its flanks prose and verse. In Kuwait, a galaxy of poets have engraved impressive verses that reflect nature, life and the successive rapid and fluctuating waves that have occurred in distant and near past. A Kuwaiti poet and prose writer whose reason and serenity in addressing fundamental issues influencing his fellow men and women in his homeland and mankind at large had recounted anecdotes from his own personal experience; an advocate of justice, has an unwavering trust in his people and the need to overcome defeat and weakness and to be wary of obstacles impeding his country’s progress and prosperity.

Rewarding
It has been a real rewarding experience reading excerpts from Al-Wegayyan’s poetry and his rational analyses of historical and poetic facts in his writings most of which are present at the Kuwaiti Writers’ League Library in Udailyah area. Al-Wegayyan has been involved in a number of literary and cultural activities throughout his life, locally and abroad, has been incessantly hailed by fellow scholars, writers and poets for his serene, subtle and rational analyses of facts and events and has been awarded many prestigious accolades.
Dr Khalifa al-Wegayyan was born in 1941. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Arabic language from Kuwait University. In 1974, he obtained his masters degree which was the first to have been published at the expense of Kuwait University. His PhD was about a prominent Abbasid poet Al-Buhturi: it was entitled “An Artistic Assessment of the Poetry of Al-Buhturi.” Selected publications written by Al-Wegayyan are “Al-Mubhiroun maa’ al-Reyah” meaning “Seafarers with the Wind” published twice, once in 1974 and another in 1980, “Tahawulat Al-Azmina” meaning “The Fluctuations of Epochs,” “Shei’r Al-Buhturi” or “The Poetry of al-Buhturi,” the anthologies “Al-Khurouj min Al-Daei’ra” or “Exodus from the Circle,” “Hasad Al-Reeh” or “The Harvest of the Wind.”
Many critics have praised the poet’s vision and rationality in recounting his perception of the various facets of life and events - in verse and prose - happening in the Arab world. An excerpt from his poem entitled “The Bride and the Pirates,” evoking the horror of invasion of his country Kuwait, a translated excerpt from Arabic reads “Whenever the surface of lucidity and purity is touched/ The pirate’s fingers/ Claws that capture in the shade of darkness the harbingers of dawn/ The warmth of the sun, the vigour of spring/ The shades of civilization, the waves awaken/ That which is not familiar with villainy/ Never known succumbness/ The beaches roar.” In a ballad for children Al-Wegayyan writes “We, children of Kuwait/ We are the flowers of the garden/ We are beacons of truth/ We are foes of rifles/ We refuse to see in our meadow the face of fires.”
In Al-Khalifa’s book entitled “Al-Qadieh al-Arabieh fi al-Shei’r Al-Kuwaiti” meaning the “The Arabian Affair in the Kuwaiti Poetry,” the poet expounds many key topics in which he highlights the role of poetry, he states that “The role of poetry is not limited to just transposing events and recording it most candidly, or projecting it photographically with accuracy.
This role is usually denoted to journalists, whereas the artistic experience ought to be an experience for the mind provided that he [the poet] does not allow it to flee the poetry’s own world that of visions, dreams and images and that is why, probably, imagination constitutes a quintessential element in the poetic experience.”
P.S. I would like to thank the poet Dr Khalifa al-Wegayyan for conversing with me about his life and his poetic experience, and also Leila M. Saleh for her valuable 330-paged reference book of comprehensive biographies about 57 distinguished Kuwaiti authors who are members of the Kuwaiti League, who have truly enriched the contemporary Arabic literature with captivating and unforgettable literary works. My thanks go to the League also for providing me with an assisted access to their resourceful and diverse Arabic book collection available at the Kuwaiti Writers’ Literary League’s Library in Udailiyah area in Kuwait.


By: Rima A. Mneimneh

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