Who is listening to the poets?

By Wajdi al-Ahdal 

The poet Johann Wolfgang Goethe once admitted that in his youth, he would imagine himself as the son of a nobleman, as he wasn’t satisfied to be descended from an artisan. He thought no one would listen to his poetry if noble blood was not flowing through his veins.  


The poet is concerned with whether the audience will listen to his/her poetry or not. This concern stems from the feeling of having something to say publically, and that this something is important and crucial.

When we listen to, or read, the poems from the poets who participated in the project “In the Land of Shattered Windows”, the tension they feel is transmitted to us, as is their overwhelming desire to be heard by the older, moderate generation who is not listening to anyone because they’re sinking to their ears in a violent and destructive conflict—a conflict whose catastrophic consequences are being reaped by the next generation of young people, while their elders go safely to their graves.

This blatant disregard for the voices of the young people is what prompted Diwan Al Fan, in partnership with The Poetry Project, to adopt this project in order to pass on the voices of Yemen’s youth to the political, intellectual, and religious elite who now control the fate of Yemen and its future.

Ten poets were distributed among five windows - two poets for each window - and each window represents one of the issues that occupy the Yemeni street. In consultation with them, each poet chose the window he or she wished to use as a platform to express his/her opinions, thoughts and promises; taking into consideration the representation of public opinion on the issue discussed in that window.


Those five poetry windows were: 

1.           The young Yemeni; messages to parents, elders and leaders.

2.         The Struggle of the Yemeni woman in times of war and conflict.

3.          The Devout Yemeni and the moderate.

4.         The Northern Yemeni and the Southern Yemeni.

5.         The opposed Yemeni to the intervention of Saudi Arabia in Yemeni matters.

This is a unique experience, for young poets to discuss their pressing issues of concern with all of Yemeni society. 

In their poetic texts, we will see what the young Yemeni generation wants:


Peace, social harmony, justice and equity, and the demand for a secure and stable homeland.

The hopes and aspirations of this young generation are almost lost, and their youth is almost wasted, because of the selfishness of the politicians, the narrowness of their horizons and their eternal attachment to their positions. Being so indifferent to the time that passes expels the lives and energy of millions of young men and women eager and active, those millions of youth whom have been prevented from producing the best image of themselves as a result of this war and conflict.

Yemen is a young, young nation, and the largest segment of the population is of tender age and production. Unfortunately, the ones in control are those old, aged men, holding on to the grip of the past, and their struggles are no longer the future.

What do our poets need to do in order to be heard by the arrogant leaders? Do they need to have noble blood in their veins as the German poet Johann Goethe envisioned at the beginning of his poetic talent?!

Is it necessary that the poet be descended from a prophet or a tribal elder to capture the attention of decision-makers??

When do we understand that human blood is neither noble nor wasteful, and that blood, as science has shown, is divided into only four distinct groups: "A", "B", "AB" and "O".

We will discover, as Goethe eventually did, that the truly noble blood is that which flows through the veins of creativity and art, and that perhaps the blood that flows through the veins of poetry is the noblest.