The Australian Lebanese Poet Mr Badaoui El-Hage who is professionally a Construction Engineer launched his first book of Arabic poetry is called “... walaw ba’ada heen”, meaning, “... even after a while”, on 28 March 2015, held at the senior’s multipurpose room at Our Lady of Lebanon Church Harris Park, Sydney, in the presence of Mr Tony Issa OAM MP and El Marada guests from Lebanon; Mrs Vera Yammine and Mr Jawad Khoury, media journalists, organization representatives, prominent personalities, and crowd of community members.
The evening was highlighted by reading selected poems from the book by the author himself. This poetry book of literature contains composed poems of three interesting sections, called “Woman”, “Homeland” and “Spirit”. The largest part is beautifully about great love-poems of women. Mr Badaoui El-Hage read snippets of his amazing variable poems of Homeland including Al-Qouds, and other passionate expressive poems where he says: “I am attracted to you via dim light “.
In his book, El-Hage started with his short sparkling poem of “Raheel wa Zaakerah”, meaning “Departure and Memory” , expressing his love, loyalty and faithfulness for his beloved one and swinging and longing between the two charming cities of Beirut and Sydney, p35. El-Hage’ s “Voice & Echo” is one of his greatest love poems where he says : “You live in my face...you inhabit my voice, you live in the drowsiness of my bed....”p15; and in the poem of “Naked gentle breeze” he says “ In every woman’s body lives a naked gentle breeze...” P29. Moreover, the poet is very fond of the “Women of Beirut “p63, he admits the women of Beirut are the most beautiful women around the world.
During my reading, I was wondering where from the author chose the title of his book? “... walaw ba’ada heen” , meaning: “...even after a while”? I thought at first that was a title of one of his poems, I continued reading until I explored that he extracted the title from the text of his poem titled “Yaqzato el Haneen”, meaning ‘Vigilance Nostalgia’. His work in this poem is an awaking state of yearning and longing for a previous time or a space or a significant body in his life. This is because the sense of nostalgia in the poet’s mind is where the home resides - which perhaps suggests the possibility of being his beloved wife that evokes the sense of eagerness and hankering at the time of departure; where she feels the ‘Lost Love’ as the MC Karam humorously mentioned.
This feeling seems spontaneous for any female who lives a strong love experience with her husband or partner for love dominates the space. It is in reality an actual indication of genuine love, loyalty and faithfulness that would be inhabited constantly and permanently despite the space and the place and is therefore highly praised. In this context, I also commend the poet in exchanging the same feelings with no surprise, for he is the Eastern man who has only ‘one heart’. In his series poems of “woman 1- 5”, he shows that he is fond of woman and continues praising her: in his poem of ‘Woman 2” p75 he says “....I have one heart that owned by protective.” and in “Woman 5” he reveals his tremendous love with “no repent” p81.
The second part of the book is called ”Homeland”, in the first three poems, the poet describes the importance of defending one’s own motherland whether it is Lebanon or Palestine or any other country. The first poem titled “Resistance” he speaks of the struggle for the ‘liberation’ of ‘land’ is a real feast of glory p85. In “Al-Qouds- Jerusalem” he reveals the cause of failure and conquer among the Palestinian leaders p87, and in “Gaza” poem p89, the poet depicts the horror and terror of the tragic descriptive scenes of the innocent victims of genocide war. In all situations, El-Hage proved to be the patriotic citizen who is caring for all the Middle Eastern countries regardless of what nation or people for he understands the concept behind the Arab unity in protecting the whole area against the land invasion or occupation. The poet here carries the burden on his back and points out to the Arab leaders the weakness and shortcomings in their leadership. This undoubtedly implies the actual need for reformation and the radical change for conquering “Daa’sh” whom he condemns p93.
In continuing reading the book, in section three called “the Spirit” with a variety of spiritual poems, one of them is titled “Qandeel” , meaning “Lantern” , where he says: ‘on its dim light, I wrote my first poem...In its light ...I saw the innocence of my childhood”p127. In another poem called “Ardana”p131, the poet does not forget the land of his birthplace which lies in the Northern part of Zgharta and has its original name from the ancient language of Canaanites. All evokes the childhood memories
While I was reading, to my surprise I came across a poem that contains verses familiar to me. I read it again, and then I realized that it is the same poem that was gifted to me at my Facebook page by the poet himself on the occasion of attending my “Threshold” Solo Art Exhibition in Bankstown Art Centre 2014. I first met Mr Badaoui El-Hage while he was viewing my new artworks and was involved in taking photos on his mobile phone, while contemplating – in a silent deep conversation – of each reflective unit and was trying to properly perceive the whole art exhibition that emanating light, and shifting colours in a relaxing surrounding. I guessed at that time that he was trying to figure out the idea and the drive behind those units of artworks, what does it mean to him and what is the purpose of it?
No doubt, he appeared to be caring creative person and possess the combined high abilities of thinking and imagination together. That was my first impression about him which proved later to be correct. To make it short, this particular poem is published in the book titled “Aaraa’ Molawana” , which literary means “Colourful Opinions” and I would translate it as “Colourful Perception” where he begins with beautiful descriptive words by saying : “Paintings with no frames...transcend lines and boundaries.“ The poet ends it by saying: “colours that are universal and eternal.” P129. I would like add here that El-Hage has a great sense of perception for he successfully selected the perfect words to give the meaningful expression that suits the art description.
Generally speaking, I find the book to be inspiring and very poetic where it has the natural rhythm of human feelings that full of sensations, passion and love for woman, for the roots and homeland. 160 pages with a small size paper and white book cover. The introduction was written by the Lebanese Writer Mr Assad El- Khoury. It is inviting for reading in depth, on the bases of its beauty and simplicity, to focus on words, meaning and imagery of the verses that takes the reader into a splendid journey.
Congratulations to Badaoui El-Hage who has wonderfully published his first poetry book and wish him all the best and good luck with his future books.
Marcelle Mansour is an Australian Palestinian Writer (Arabic & English) and Visual Artist who lives in Sydney, Australia.