The Hanged Poem of Imru' al-Qais2018
The Hanged Poem of Imru’ al-Qais
Performed by Noor Haddad
Early pre-Islamic poetry was a form of oral storytelling passed from generation to generation. These are the words of esteemed 6th century poet Imru’ al-Qais. They are taken from one of the seven Mu'allaqat poems, surviving into our modern age as a result of being considered so fine that they were suspended in (or around) the Ka'aba in Mecca.
One of the earliest and most dynamic forms of expression across the Middle East and North Africa is the oral recitation of poetry. The exhibition From Visionaries to Vloggers: media revolutions in the Middle East (spring 2020) introduces audiences to a range of poets, from seventh century mu’allaqa poets to more recent famed socially active poets including Nizar Qabbani (Syria), Bayram Al Tunisi (Egypt), and Palestinian Mahmoud Darwish.
The exhibition’s discussions consider how poetry and performance can fulfil social functions, such as sharing in the beauty of language, as well as assembling people to witness protest.
Many media platforms can be used to spread messages of awareness and drive change, but voice is most powerful because there is no mediation between speaker and audience. Recited poetry can therefore be a call to action and a powerful tool for freedom of expression.
This and other poetry performances available in Explore Content featured in From Visionaries to Vloggers, and all were performed by students. You can also access the exhibition’s animations on poetry and storytelling in the region in Explore Content.