E IS FOR ETHIOPIA and S IS FOR SAUDI ARABIA
Pre-Islamic warrior poets—they’re just like us! Or to be more precise, the contemporary person that Antarah reminded me of most would be Omar Little from The Wire. A cold-blooded killer with a code who was hella sweet when thinking about his significant other, and who had a lot riding on milk-related nourishment. Antarah was the OG, and this is further proven by the fact that his poetry does not seem like it was written 1400+ years ago, in fact, if taken out of context, it could be mistaken for violent rap. Not contemporary, since it isn’t considered in good manners to skewer people and marry cousins in 2019, but perhaps a little more old-school, like, 90s Mobb Deep or DMX. That both humbles me and makes me reassess reality, because it dawns on me how little the world has changed since Antarah’s time, and how impossibly hard it is to say something new for an artist.
A fantastic collection of poems that endlessly inspires. How about some praise for a man who was not ashamed to say he was fighting in wars for the ability to go down on his beloved? Pure awesomeness by any time’s standards.
War Songs by Antarah Ibn Shaddad
Translated by James E. Montgomery,
Published by NYU Press in 2018