Jun 8, 2006

Losing my Voice

The other day, someone called my mother tongue, a “terrorist language.” My heart sank. Since when did the language of poetry become a hateful dialect?

I recently published a couple of pieces in an anthology, which includes writings and images by a diverse group of Muslim women writers, poets and artists. Our pieces are political and emotional. They are as beautifully complex as each and every single one of us. These are pieces that came from our hearts. They speak of injustices and imposed wars; not only the war of bombs and missiles, but also wars of sexism, racism, poverty, homophobia…

I think of our anthology, and I smile because I see courageous women. I think of women whose words will settle into the hearts of others who also long for justice and peace. I think of the ways in which our words and images might reach others.

I feel honored to be part of this group of women; and yet, I feel like a coward.

I feel like a coward because lately I get caught up in all the hype around being a person of Arab/Iranian Muslim decent living in the post-911 world of hatred and fear towards my people.

I feel like a coward because some mornings I choose not to read Farsi books on the subway.

I feel like a coward because sometimes I stutter when I tell people where I was born.

I feel like a coward because at times I censor my own words.

I feel like a coward because some days I feel helpless.

I feel like a coward because there are times when I choose silence.

Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
But to be fearless in meeting them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain,
But for the heart to conquer it.

Let me not look for allies in life's battlefield,
But to my own strength.
Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved,
But hope for the patience to win my freedom.

Grant me that I may not be a coward,
Feeling your mercy in my success alone.
But let me find the grasp
Of your hand in my failure.

(words of Rabindranath Tagore)


Blogger Kalimba said...

This is a beautiful piece, PQ. Your writing should be published on the front pages of the major media, in place of the fear-mongering items that normally appear there.

10:40 AM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

hey Kalimba! long time no talk! thanks, I wish we could hear the Other voices in mainstream media, but that won't be happening, both you and I know that.

12:49 PM  
Blogger Aaminah said...

Asalaamu alaikum.

Beautiful, and inspiring.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I know this feeling of feeling like a coward, well. Or I used to at least, it takes a long time to find a voice that is comfortable that does not come accross as angry or scared. However, this piece is just beautiful in articulating that feeling.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Changeseeker said...

I am, and I have been for many years, seen as an unapologetic voice. I long ago decided that I must be consistent to the extent humanly possible no matter where I am. Still, these words made me weep.

You see, the fear is still there. The feeling of being a coward is still there. I just decided to speak anyway. To the press, in writing, in confrontations, in front of classes or groups, wherever. But the fear, like skin, is always there.

Yevtushenko wrote:
"How sharply our children will be ashamed/taking at last their vengeance for these horrors/remembering how in so strange a time/common integrity could look like courage."

10:04 AM  
Anonymous vegankid said...

your words are absolutely beautiful! i'm reminded of a conversation that nubian and i were having this weekend. basically about how the voices of all wimmin of color are threatening, unless you're a condoleeza rice or a michelle malkin. looking at it this way, anything you say will evoke terror into the hearts of those that wish to maintain the status quo. that's why we must not let those in power define what is and isn't terrorism. for much of the world, english is the terrorist language, and poetry is freedom.

i hope you never censor your own words, pq, they are beautiful and powerful and the world needs them.

10:46 AM  
Blogger skyscraper said...

you are not a coward, already by the fact that you are so courageous to realize those fears within yourself, and to admit them to yourself and to the world.

you have a wonderful, unstoppable voice that resonates in people's heart long after we've read your poetry. you make these feelings known, you speak for those who cannot speak. you are a heroine.

you know all too well that we can't always be angry, can't always try to shout our truths to the ignorant fucks' faces, can't internalize other people prejudice and hate, can't keep educating people that are un-educatable. you've told me this yourself a while ago when i just started blogging. and these profound, wise and precious words have been engraved deeply in my heart ever since.

thank you for being such a passionate writer. and thank you for sharing this, it's inexplicably beautiful, PQ!

2:39 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

wow - everytime I'm surprised by just how much your supportive comments affect me. it's like I don't even know what to expect when I post my thoughts, my words, my emotions...I post them not knowing where they go...all I know is that they're out of my head and I can think clearer, breathe clearer.
so when I see how my words might touch others out there, it's always shocking but amazing, because I know there are others out there like me that get me, or at least, a part of me through my words.
thank you for your comments. I truly appreciate them.


12:43 PM  
Blogger skyscraper said...


keep on being as beautiful and irresistable as you are in your vulnerability and strength, girl. you're endlessly inspiring. you remind me that it's ok to be sad and human, because in the end we're still able to show unabridged tenacity and strength, if need be.

and you reinforce my self-confidence and self-admiration because your presence and words speak to me by saying you can be sensitive, frustrated and fuckin' fed up, yet survive.

1:58 AM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

thank you sky, truly, thanks. :)
I am inspired by people like yourself and am happy I can be that in return...
it is ok to be sad and human and I love the way you put that. as you put it, it doesn't mean we aren't survivors and fighters, just human with all the range of intense emotions that make us who we are.
peace girl,

7:49 PM  

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