Nov 23, 2015

Ashraf Fayadh's "Disputed" Poems, in English Translation

petroleum is harmless, except for the trace of poverty it leaves behind 

on that day, when the faces of those who discover another oil well go dark, 
when life is blown into your heart to extract more oil off your soul 
for public use.. 
That.. is.. the promise of oil, a true promise. 

the end.. 

it was said: settle there..
but some of you are enemies for all 
so leave it now

look up to yourselves from the bottom of the river; 
those of you on top should provide some pity for those underneath.. 
the displaced is helpless, 
like blood that no one wants to buy in the oil market! 

pardon me, forgive me
for not being able to pump more tears for you
for not mumbling your name in nostalgia. 
I directed my face at the warmth of your arms 
I got no love but you, you alone, and am the first of your seekers. 

you are inexperienced with Time
lacking rain drops
that could wash away all the remains of your past
and liberate you of what you had called piety..
of that heart.. capable of love, 
of play, 
and of intersecting with your obscene withdrawal from that flabby religion 
from that fake Tanzeel 
from gods that had lost their pride..

you burp, more than you used to.. 
as the bars bless their visitors 
with recitations and seductive dancers.. 

accompanied with the DJ 
you recite your hallucinations 
and speak your praise for these bodies swinging to the verses of exile.

he’s got no right to walk however 
or to swing however or to cry however. 

he’s got no right to open the window of his soul,
to renew his air, his waste, and his tears.. 

you too tend to forget that you are 
a piece of bread

on the day of banishment, they stand naked, 
while you swim in the rusty pipes of sewage, barefoot.. 

this could be healthy for the feet
 but not for earth 

prophets have retired
so do not wait for yours to come to you

and for you, 
for you the monitors bring their daily reports
and get their high salaries.. 

how important money is
for a life of dignity

my grandfather stands naked everyday, 
without banishment, without divine creation.. 
I have already been resuscitated without a godly blow in my image. 
I am the experience of hell on earth..

is the hell prepared for refugees. 

your mute blood will not speak up 
as long as you pride yourself in death
as long as you keep announcing -secretly- that you have put your soul 
at the hands of those who do not know much.. 

losing your soul will cost time, 
much longer than what it takes to calm 
your eyes that have cried tears of oil 

* These poems appeared in Fayadh's poetry collection Instructions Within which was published by the Beirut-based Dar al-Farabi in 2008 and later banned from distribution in Saudi Arabia. 

Translated by: Mona Kareem

You can now order it on AMAZON


  1. Thank you so much for the translation. finally we can hear his voice and understand it.

  2. Thank you for giving the opportunity like me to read the poetry of Ashraf Fayadh.

  3. Thank you for these translations. His metaphors about the dark, underbelly of oil are powerful. I hope that he will be released, that this campaign will help shift the court.

  4. will there be more translations , is there a place where i can read them all?

    thx btw

  5. It is wonderful to read these poems that interrogate the ethics of oil. Would love to read more.

  6. Where is the blasphemy he is being charged with?

  7. Very interesting the poems of Ashraf Fayadh,Palestinian Poet.His poems are very existencialistic,full of imaginary reality,directing us to awake ,to see the reality, the greed of oil in our time...I cant comprehend why he is arrested and send to jail & death ,just to create ART..Its a doble standart in Saudy Arabia...on relation to Art,Life,Religion.... Mr Fayadh shall be release from Prisson and move to America where he can grow freely as a poet,as an artist ,and as a great Human being. !!! FREE ASHRAF FAYADH!!!!!

  8. A kingdom that silences all to obedience! You've got no right to speakout your beliefs because the gods might be offended by it and the kingdom fights you to remain strong and relevant only to itself. Ashraf Fayadh stepped on the toes of the gods and must be avenged

  9. This new Saudi king is over 70 - he had been waiting until old age to take the throne, boy he is sure going to unleash his frustrations and wrath over his subjects and surrounding nations (Yemen) ... Please God Help Us All, Amin.

  10. Wonderful works - million thanks to Mona. Poems are more than blasphemous as the poet dared to use word 'oil'.
    *Free Ashraf*

  11. No Tolerance on State Intolerance.
    Thank you Mona for introducing the poet.

  12. Thank you for English translations. We will read out his poems in his honor on Dec 17 here in Albuquerque New Mexico USA at the community gathering "Resolana Luz" in our South Broadway Cultural Center.
    The New Mexico Revolutionary Poets Brigade salutes Ashraf Fayadh and his courage!

  13. Just wanna say... thanks for good translation... lovely poem, anyway.

  14. Thank you for the English translations! It will come in useful, and is much appreciated. I want more people to be able to read his fantastic work

  15. Where could I find the original version in arabic? If anybody knows please link here


  16. Which are the poems cited by the court as evidence of apostasy? Please forgive my cultural ignorance, but none of these verses seem particularly offensive to a religious person. What am I missing? Thanks in advance for any answers you may be able to provide. Sincerely, -J

  17. What a privilege to read this poets words.

    Free Ashraf.

  18. Thank you for making Ashram Fayadh's work available to this fellow poet from the United States. An honour.

  19. Thank you so much for the translation.

  20. Beautiful peaces! I pray for his freedom!

  21. Hello and greetings from Portugal!

    Yesterday me and some other artists we made a poetry reading regarding Ashraf Fayadh' situation and the lack of Human Rights in general, in Portugal, everywhere...
    I made some translation of a few Ashraf's poems in portuguese. And now I'm doing the translation of the rest of them, using your translation from here.

    I'd appreciate very much if you could help me in some meanings. As far as I know there are no portuguese translations at the moment and it would be great to have some Ashraf's poems for people to have "access" and know better Ashraf and his unique and free mind!

    My idea is to spread his words on paper and web. Also, this is the most I can do right now... And as much translations we can have stronger Ashraf's voice becomes!

    It would be great if you could kindly help me :)
    Thank you very much!

  22. Translation of this poem in our Nepalese languages are given in digital media widely in Nepal.

  23. Translation of these poems in Nepalese are put on digital media of Nepal also.


  24. يا أشرف
    قل لي ما جنى ابن
    محمود درويش بارض الرجعيين و الطغاة والمجرمين
    ملوك السعودية و قوانين الشريعة
    من عقولهم وقلوبهم مسممة
    من رائحة المال و النفط!
    من كراهيتهم للحضارة
    و كونهم خنجر للعقول المتحضرة

    ماذا كنت تفعل بلا
    رائحة الخبز في قصيده محمود درويش
    " الأم " ؟
    انك لم تكن على علم في كراهيتهم
    لحرية التعبير وحقوق الإنسان
    الهذا قفزت في النار ؟!
    أشرف لقد ضحيت بروحك
    بالجانب المظلم من التاريخ
    الآن صوتك محصور في القلب و كل قصائدك الجديدة هي الجمال بلا مأوى !
    انضر من نافذة سجنك الى
    الشمس المشرقة ترتفع و تستمع الى شعراء العالم يدعون اسمك.
    مهناز باديهيان

  25. Thanks for making and posting this translation. We read the poem aloud and discussed it today at a weekly poetry workshop at Florence State Prison in Arizona, joining the many readings around the world of Fayadh's work. -- Joe Lockard

  26. Hello, If you don't mind I'll post this translation on Facebook, properly quoted and with a link to your blog. I found this really interesting, thank you for your work. I hope this poet to be released the soonest possible from prison, anyway he was in an intellectual prison (the Saudi Regime). I hope the best for him and for you too.

  27. Really?
    Kings, Courts and Mullahs of the Land of Oil say the poet must die?
    800 lashes?
    8 years in prison?
    It's not the poet who insults the prophet!
    It's not the poem that insults Islam!
    Who then is guilty of apostasy in the land of black gold, sun, wind and sand?
    Idle Kings!
    Cruel Courts!
    False teachers who understand the Prophet and Poets words not!

  28. Like many of you, I cannot find any offensive thoughts. Ashram Fayadh must let go free.

  29. Beautiful, thank you for the translation.

  30. Beautiful, thank you for the translation.

  31. I hope that these are not the poems that will cause this poor man to spent 8 years in prison and receive 800 lashes. I see no apostasy, just powerful words. But then I am just a stupid American who believes in free speech.

  32. Thank you Mona!! I'm working on a french translation.

  33. This is not blasphemy. This man is innocent of what they are accusing him of. I don't know of a single hadith where prophet Muhammed (pbuh) punished someone with 800 lashes, where do they come up with these rulings? This is purely a political action. They apparently did not like the fact that he is critiquing the rich Saudi Oil business that leave a large section of the population still in poverty.

  34. Replies
    1. The soul can only renew "the-self" by taking journeys from life's daily drudgery. By looking inward further, examining, querying life's purpose it thus clarifies and liberates itself to find hope at the end of the tunnel. The translated Ashraf Fayadh's poems that I read, are the voice of an artist who dares to begin that needed inward search to understand life and to inform others. The clarity of its reach may have unnerved the exteriors of a paternal structure whose strength is in droning its populace into sleep, done sometimes with horrific public acts such as lashing and executions. But is Ashraf's art enough repudiation of that paternal structure that the poet must be sentenced to die? Ashraf is not Rushdie! But his case sure brings up what RUSHDIE suffered. Rushdie. I hope your voice still counts? I hope you can see a parallel here if you haven't - enough to come to the aid of this nascent voice made a sacrificial lamb. Help must be found and given where it is needed. And this is the right moment to help stir up or support a movement that will free art and artists from the din of ignorance that's often the stature of a closed-society. Let the free world arise to help Ashraf! Please don't STOP until this good and clear poetic voice is liberated to find its own lights in this vast universe.

  35. very nice poetry @

  36. " Rebellion "
    Thats the final word a poet of any worth

  37. Translated a few of these poems in to Malayalam language