Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Art of Saying 'No'

In her installation commemorating 100 years of Islamic art in Europe, Bahia Shehab, a Lebanese-Egyptian artist and art historian, discovered there is art in saying "No". In her brief TEDTalk below, Shehab talks about how she went from creating A Thousand Times No to stenciling the letterform lam-alif (Arabic for "No") on the walls and in the streets of Cairo.


"Fellows Friday with Bahia Shehab", Interview, TED, September 7, 2012

Bahia Shehab, A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif, Khatt Books, 2010

After listening to Shehab's talk, I composed the following poem:


NO is a thousand times two letters

cast in the shards of a pharoh's bust,
printed in the embers of burning books,
aimed like bullets at Cairo's walls,
exposed in the blue a woman's curves fit.

Let the word escape your mouth, then stitch it
in the veils your Arab spring lifts.

A thousand times two letters repeated NO,

© 2012 Maureen E. Doallas

1 comment:

Louise Gallagher said...

Her talk made me cry
Your poem makes me weep
a thousand times
letters on a wall
is enough.

Thank you Maureen. You have a beautiful heart.