Al-Ahdal wins medal for second stage in “One Million Poet” contest [Archives:2007/1046/Culture]

April 30 2007

Nisreen Shadad
In an effort to embolden all talented poets both inside and outside of Yemen, Minister of Culture Mohammed Al-Maflahi honored young poet Abdulrahman Al-Ahdal on April 22.

Al-Ahdal participated as a contestant on the television program Sha'ir al-Milyon on the Abu Dhabi channel, in which poets compete to win a prize of one million Emirati dirhams,

“This celebration is but an expression of our interest in those gifted people inside and outside Yemen,” Al-Mu'alimi observed.

“Al-Ahdal was one of the innovative poets who participated in the ninth round of the 'One Million Poet' contest. “Through this program, he was one of the distinctive poets,” the minister added.

Al-Ahdal participated in the program last month, which is specialized for distinctive Middle Eastern poets, receiving the “One Million Poet” medal for the second round, the stage before the final one. Moreover, he received another medal for the most debatable poet due to the topics he had chosen.

“There were approximately 5,000 participants, from which 48 were selected and then 24 for the second round and I was one of those 24 poets,” Al-hdal said. “Although I wasn't the winner, I was the only one with the highest votes, having received 94 percent. For me, it's enough to have a place in the people's hearts and to receive their love,” he explained.

Four out of the 24 poets competed to reach the third round against each other in the second round, seeking to qualify for the third final round.

From the second round, four poets nominated: Al-Ahdal from Yemen, Mubarak Al-Mansouri from the United Arab Emirates, Mohammed Mureibad Al-Azmi and Khalid Al-Anzi, both from Saudi Arabia.

Large numbers, including diplomats, attended the show. Dignitaries included Emirati Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid Al-Nahyan and Sheikh Zaid bin Sultan Al-Nahyan

Al-Ahdal's life has proven that problems are the food of creativity. He was born in the Tihama and lived in a home made of straw. His mother died when he was 10 years old and his father married another wife. “After my mother's death, I missed the source of passion and kindness. I felt that I was alone and that I had no voice or anything to live for in the governorate, so I left the Tihama when I was 12 to live in Hodeidah.”

However, Al-Ahdal really left his village to seek knowledge. Since his family was qualified in numerous Islamic sciences, as well as literature, he preferred to go to the source of knowledge and study under scholars' hands.

Because it gave him very little knowledge, he left school at an early age to study in a traditional school. Most study of this type takes place in mosques where scholars teach various books in different fields, particularly Islamic sciences and Arabic language. Students can choose the subject in which they'd like to go deeper.

“Traditional schools are much better than schools nowadays because school curriculums control our minds and abilities. However, in traditional schools, knowledge is stronger and the teachers are scholars. It gives the learner the chance to surpass the knowledge he feels in himself,” Al-Ahdal observed.

“After studying a book of one of the scholars, we then must teach it as a type of practice under the scholar's supervision. The scholar then can measure our level of understanding and comprehension of the book and consequently, gives us an ijaza, which is equal to a school certificate and says I not only passed the course, but I also can teach it,” he explained.

Al-Ahdal studied Islamic studies and literature in the Tihama for five years before traveling to Hadramout. “I studied under great scholars who greatly influenced my entire life for five years. I received numerous ijaza in Arabic and Islamic studies.”

Although Al-Ahdal is still young at 25 years old, he has excelled in numerous arts and sciences, especially poetry writing. Within one poem, he cleverly employs various types of verse, skillfully mixing traditional verse with free or blank verse to make his poems vivid and powerful.

He sometimes uses rhyming poetry from everyday speech, as well as rhymes in standard Arabic, to produce an effect on both ordinary and educated listeners.

Able to swim skillfully among the poetic arts and verses, Al-Ahdal commented, “Attendees at the show were amazed by the powerful language. The vocabulary I use and the eloquent responses I give make my poems more effective.”

The young poet has participated in several lectures both inside and outside of Yemen, in addition to the “One Million Poet” show. According to him, the program has given him the chance to clarify his personality and make his thoughts and ideas emerge. “I like this program because through it, I expressed my thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Through it, I see myself as I am.”

As he says himself, Al-Ahdal likes to touch on hot and sensitive issues. “My poem, 'The Daughter of Arabism,' is the one that most effectively moved attendees and listeners. In that poem, I combined the Gulf dialect, Yemeni dialect and standard Arabic. While writing it, I actually shed tears and the listeners of this poem also shed tears. The poem uses Arabic language, the language of the Qur'an and the language of those who dwell in paradise,” he explained.

According to Al-Ahdal, Arabic language has become a stranger in its own homeland, suffering and living in dire circumstances. “I think Arab countries lack cultural preservation.” Thus, he devotes his poems, particularly “The Daughter of Arabism,” for the Arabic language.

Additionally, Al-Ahdal writes numerous books, research, and collections. “I now dream of publishing my collections and books,” he added.

Al-Ahdal was born in al-Hodeidah in 1971 and currently lives in Abu Dhabi. He has a divan (collection of poems) in print, as well as other publications such as The History of Yemeni Art in the Age of the Islamic State, Notions on al-Aidarous' Poetry, and a book on the artistic journey, entitled, The Redolent Whiffs and Rainy Clouds.