Wednesday, July 06, 2011


Cover_Fever Dreams_ Its always a good day when I hear from the Egyptian poet Yahia Lababidi. To find out more about him see PREVIOUS POST: Trial By Ink.

His new collection of poems, Fever Dreams is now out and available from Crisis Chronicles Press

What is to Give Light

What is to give light must endure                                                    burning, a man once said
Another man became the matchstick
that set a nation aflame
But fire, and its appetite, cannot be
calculated, like freedom
Injustice and desperation make men
combustible, like dry wood
When words lose their meaning
and an entire people their voice 
so they can neither laugh nor scream  
death and life begin to taste the same
From Tunis, to Egypt, to Libya to Yemen
the light from a burning man proved catching
And those with nothing to lose, or offer, but bodies
fanned the embers of their hopes into a blazing dream.


‘I Burn’, a poem by NSAA (Poet, Graphic artist, Folk Singer, Lyricist)

‘Early on December 17th last year Mohamed Bouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit-and-vegetable seller, had doused himself in petrol, flicked a lighter and started a revolution in front of the building.’ –Tunisia: The Burning Man Revolution/ Irish Times

Monk sets fire to himself as Tibet protests spreadBeijing  - A Tibetan Buddhist monk set fire to himself on Friday after Chinese authorities prevented him from observing a traditional prayer festival, the London-based Free Tibet Campaign reported.


Self-Immolation of Buddhist Monk in Vietnam

Jan Palach remembered at UoM (2009)
Jan Palach - Czech student who died for freedom in 1969.

On January 16, 1968 he took the morning train to Prague. At the dormitory he wrote his last letter, intended for publication. One copy he put in a briefcase, and three others he addressed to the Writers' Union, Lubos Holecek - an activist in the student movement, and Ladislav Zizka, a friend from the economics school, to whom he also included his personal greetings.
At around four o'clock that same day he stood at the ramp of the National Museum, at the top of Wenceslas Square, poured gasoline over himself and set himself on fire. He ran burning across the intersection toward a grocery store, and fell by the road.A transport worker threw his coat over him and according to witnesses, Palach was still conscious.He was taken by ambulance to the department for burn victims on Legerova Street. Eighty-five percent of his body was covered with serious burns, the majority of them third-degree. He lived another three days and died on January 19, 1969.His funeral took place on January 25 1969 in Prague. It was a grave and silently expressed universal dissent with the occupation of the country. Jan Palach is buried in Prague at the Olsany Cemeteries.

1 comment:

Yahia said...

Thank you, John, for this thoughtful and arresting presentation.

It is a desperate state of affairs when the body becomes the last site available to register protest.

Again, grateful for your putting my poem into this larger, human context and showing how no price is too high to pay for Freedom. Your friend, Yahia