On National Poetry Day, here’s a sonnet that’s like rap, a protest poem for racial justice

by Rashmee

Posted on October 1, 2020


Today is National Poetry Day in Britain and I’ve been thinking a great deal about a poem from across the waters. It’s by Terrance Hayes, 48. He describes himself in interviews as a “jock” writing sonnets but don’t let the self-deprecation fool you. Hayes clothes and unclothes ideas with ease and grace and passion. The … Continue reading “On National Poetry Day, here’s a sonnet that’s like rap, a protest poem for racial justice”

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An AI breakthrough that may mean curtains for poets, journalists…and me

by Rashmee

Posted on July 23, 2020 / The Focus


I was very taken by economics professor Tyler Cowen’s recent rundown on an Artificial Intelligence (AI) breakthrough that will allow computers to offer services we would normally expect from a reasonably well-educated writer. Cowen described GPT-3, the third generation of language prediction model, as follows: “GPT-3 can converse at a conceptual level, translate language, answer … Continue reading “An AI breakthrough that may mean curtains for poets, journalists…and me”

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Ever tried Ramadan in a poem?

by Rashmee

Posted on May 6, 2019


I was very taken by Libyan-American Khaled Mattawa’s poem, which bears the simple title ‘Ramadan’. “This month the moon becomes a princess,” he writes, “The stars fan her,/ Jupiter pours cups of wine,/ Mars sings melancholy mawals./ Bearded men holding prayer beads and yellow booklets stare at her/ and point aching fingers at her waist.” … Continue reading “Ever tried Ramadan in a poem?”

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Why we should miss the fading art of writing postcards

by Rashmee

Posted on January 25, 2019


  The other day I came across Pulitzer Prize-winning prose poet Charles Simic’s musings in the New York Review of Books on the fading art of writing and sending postcards. He was very clear why it’s so charming. “Nowadays, you’re bound to get an email enclosing a photograph, or, if your grandchildren are the ones … Continue reading “Why we should miss the fading art of writing postcards”

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A Chinese poet in the US faces his shadows

by Rashmee

Posted on September 1, 2018


I wonder what Ha Jin, a Chinese poet who stayed back in the US after the Tiananmen Square massacre, feels about all the talk of worsening Sino-US relations. Perhaps he takes it in his stride – the fact that the country of his birth and the one he has adopted are squaring up for a … Continue reading “A Chinese poet in the US faces his shadows”

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Can a poem be as deadly as a tank?

by Rashmee

Posted on August 5, 2018 / The Arab Weekly


A poem has certainly never stopped a tank, Nobel literature laureate Seamus Heaney once wrote, but the Israeli government seems to disagree. It appears to believe there is a mighty combustible charge contained within a poem and that the poet is rather like a tank commander. On July 31, Arab-Israeli Dareen Tatour was convicted for … Continue reading “Can a poem be as deadly as a tank?”

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Tozeur in southern Tunisia wears its storied history fairly lightly

by Rashmee

Posted on June 1, 2018


    Aboul-Qacem Echebbi, the 20th century poet whose style is admired throughout the Arab world and is responsible for the current Tunisian anthem, belonged to Tozeur. So did Ibn Chabbat, the 13th century engineer who built this oasis-city’s sophisticated, still-functioning irrigation system. The city has commemorated both men in stone. For Echebbi, whose poetry … Continue reading “Tozeur in southern Tunisia wears its storied history fairly lightly”

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Does it matter that no poet graced the inauguration of President Donald Trump?

by Rashmee

Posted on January 21, 2017


Did it matter that no poet graced the inauguration of President Trump? Nah, the scoffers will say, suspecting a plot to undermine America’s 45th President. Nah, some of the hairier bikers will argue with irrefutable logic, what’s poetry worth in dollars and cents? You can’t eat poetry, cash it in, or get it to pay … Continue reading “Does it matter that no poet graced the inauguration of President Donald Trump?”

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A poem a day. Or how the oneness of the world – and self – can be poetically brought about

by Rashmee

Posted on October 24, 2016


Hannah Arendt, the theorist who looked deep into the heart of political darkness, once said that a metaphor plays a crucial role in a poem. It is “the means by which the oneness of the world is poetically brought about”. John Donne’s rising sun, for instance, hails the star thus: “She is all states, and … Continue reading “A poem a day. Or how the oneness of the world – and self – can be poetically brought about”

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‘America, I sing you back’. Musings from a naturalized American in age of Trump

by Rashmee

Posted on August 10, 2016


As a naturalized American, I think it’s fair to say that one is deeply fearful about the state of the US right now. It’s also fair to record the difficulty of explaining to a lot of puzzled people in many places that the US is not really a bigoted country (Donald Trump and his supporters … Continue reading “‘America, I sing you back’. Musings from a naturalized American in age of Trump”

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Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK