Husien Al-Mihdhar:A prominent Yemeni lyrical poet [Archives:2005/871/Culture]

August 25 2005

Ridhwan Al-Saqqaf
Hussein Abu-Bakr Al-Mihdhar was born in 1930, in the famous Alshihr port in the Arab Gulf.

Almihdhar was brought up by his family which used to lead a life of asceticism. It is not a coincidence that Al-Mihdhar became a poet. He inherited the innate aptitude of poetry. Both his father and mother's grand fathers were famous poets.

Mihdhar finished his primary education in (Ribat Al-Shihr), religious schools that used to teach Arabic language and Islamic monotheism. This was a great chance for him to acquaint himself with the superb Arabic literature. He made his first poem while he was still 12.

At the age of 14 Al-Mihdhar began his early participations in the literal and poetic rural gatherings to which he was strongly attracted. When he reached his 16, all Hadrmout cities were reacting with his poems and songs. Famous Hadrmout singers like Mohamed Juma'a Khan, Saeed Abdulmoneim and others began singing his poems. Shortly after that, AbuBakr Salim Balfaqeeh, the then great Aden singer sang his poems. This became a turning point in the reputation of Al-Mindshare as a poet and an inspired composer.

During his life Almihdhar lived in more than one Yemeni city. He also went to the Gulf States a well as Saudi Arabia. He participated in several literal festivals in European cities.

The power of Al-Mihdhar in phrasing his expressions and the creation of emotional meanings captivated the peoples' presentments.

Almihdhar was also reactive with the national and social developments. His songs in this respect will long remain to be the public emblem for the people in their sorrows and pleasures. They greatly symbolize the unforgettable social events that Al-Mihdhar managed to divinize for them.

Al-Mihdhar has four “Divans” or collection of poems, tears of lovers (Domou' Alushaq) issued in 1972, and smiles of lovers (Ibtasamat Alushaq) which was issued in 1978. Many critics inside and outside Yemen wrote a number of works on his poetry. Several books were also written about him. There are about 10 theatrical plays that tackled the conservative traditions of the community through which the national events were registered.

Al-Mihdhar has a large product of the poetic debates of emulation, which he used to recite in the Hadrami “dan” chants sittings, that he attended since he was 22. He outmatched the greatest popular Hadrmout poets in that. A great number of Al-Mihdhar theatrical poems were written on national occasions or made in competition with other poets. This product is now considered an important element of the cultural history of Hadrmout and Yemen at large.

Al-Mihdhar got married twice and he has a son and three daughters.

He was elected for parliament in the early eighties, and became a member of the supreme body of the first unity parliament in 1990.

He was honored by the president in 1998. He was given the first high medal of Arts and literature.

The Yemeni cultural community mourned the great poet. He was buried in Al-Shahr city near his mother that he loved greatly.

Abdulrahman Al-Milahi, the poet's close youth mate, said he received with anguish his friend's sudden death. He described it as the great loss to all his friends together with his other fans. They used to consider him as a safe haven. They used to enjoy his comic and amusing spirit, as often he gifts them with his new creativity.

Al-Milahi recalls that when they last met Al-Mihdhar told him of his medical diagnosis in Abu Dhabi, “They told me that my heart is ok,” he told his friend. Al-Milahi quickly reminded him of one of his poems in which he mentions that his heart is tired of him and they exchanged smiles, however it was their last meeting. He died of fever at ten that night, shortly after he left them.

Al-Milahi spoke of Al-Mihdhar's great love to 'Suoad', a name he used to give to his city of Al-Shahr. He said that he was always home sick, and longing for his city even though he is inside it.

Poet Mohamed Numan Al-Sharjabi expresses his sorrow for the loss of a poet and friend. He described him as the great poet who did all in his power to promote the Yemeni song not only at the local level but at the level of the whole Arab world.

He said that he compares him with the great poets, who have the ability to employ the expressions in a simple manner whose meaning could easily be grasped. He proceeded to say that he also used to possess the power of unbiased judgments.

Playwright Najeeb Mocbil, says that Al-Mihdhar was the ambassador of the Yemeni songs. He managed to dig the Hadrami sweet dialect out of the dictionary, which it would have remained imprisoned in it, had it not been for his elite power of resurrection.

Mocbil believes that Al-Mihdhar is an unprecedented modern poetic school of songs. He will remain to be the transparent modern pioneer for poets not only in Yemen, but in the whole Gulf region.

Poet Salim Al-Amiri was also contacted to comment. He spoke about the poet's city Alshahr, which means “the city”. He said that it used to be the fifth old Arab market. (Those markets used to be literature and poetic forums, in which people from all over Arabia, annually gather to listen to new poems of the great Arabia poets in the pre Islamic era.) This city inherited the old port of Gina in Beir Ali, which was the only main port in old Hadrmout, at the flourishing age of the old Yemeni civilization. In this city our poet was born in 1930. He spent his youth, middle age and died in it. In more than fifty years in this area, he recorded a huge cultural heritage which spread all over the country and the region. Poet Alamiri continues saying that Almihdhar was the ablest modern poet that was to be known recently in Yemen.

Composer Karamah Mursal, who used to Warble with the Mihdhar poetry said that he enjoyed singing Mihdhar's songs since the sixties of the last century. He expressed his grief for the loss of the poet, with words that he described as falling short of being true to mourn him.

Journalist Aziz al-Tha'alibi, General Secretary of the cultural union of the Yemeni writers, said that he was the last to call the poet following his return from his medical trip to Abu Dhabi. He inquired about his health, and he said he felt that he was tired, and complaining of cold and fever, and he was forced to let him rest. In spite of this the poet gave him excerpts of his new poem, commenting that he didn't expect it to be “a farewell.” .

The late great thinker Mohamed Abdulqadir Ba- Matraf, described poet Al-Mihdhar as a man who has been bestowed a heart that is responsive to all humanitarian reactions.

Journalist Mohamed Numan commented saying that Al-Mihdhar was a pillar of poetry in Yemen and the Arab peninsula. Yemen and the Arab nation lost greatly.

Poet Ali Hameed, asserted that Al-Mihdhar was a main tributary for the Yemeni cultural activity. His creativeness left an influence on the whole Arab world and the Gulf region in particular through the dual marvelous works with composer Abu-Bahr Salim Balfqih.