As part of its efforts to promote a culture of criticism within society, the Qatari Forum of Authors organized a critical session for the participants of the Forum’s initiative, “women critics and their approach,” entitled “Narratives and Resistance to Women by Writing.”
During the session, which was held on the evening of Monday, August 2, 2021, and was moderated via video call by Dr. Abdelhak Belabed, Professor of Literature and Critical and Comparative Curricula at Qatar University, and the supervisor of the initiative, Dr. Maysa Zuhdi Al-Khawaja, an associate professor of literature and criticism at King Saud University, was hosted.
At the beginning, Dr. Abdul Haq Belabed explained the importance of the initiative in disseminating a culture of criticism among writers and performers and enabling them to develop a strategic plan for reading and analyzing texts in the light of the mechanisms of criticism. The initiative also comes to celebrate the Arab Women’s Year for the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO).
At the beginning, Dt. Maysaa Al-Khawaja referred to her concern with the text in the first place, considering that the critic`s role is to approach the text and not the issue, within a particular approach, as the point of convergence between the reader and the text, she also indicated her concern with the cultural textures which means the search beyond what the texts says specially in the feminist literature, even though literature is not defined by its gender as much as it was written in the text, however with her many approaches to the novels of Arab women writers, she found many common themes about women’s issues.
She also spoke of Arabic poetry in her transformation from Badr Shakir al – Siab in his mystery to the identity anxiety of the resistance poet Mahmoud Darwish. She said that, at the beginning of her critical work, she took an interest in poetry and sometimes researching the mystery of poetry. The approach was that the taste goes to the familiar text, so the research and the question was: Do we need a new mechanism to read this text? The irony was that the reasons for the mystery persisted, from old poetry to the attempts to renew it reaching the youth poem that it is currently interested in, as she was first concerned with free verse Then an attempt to read what young poets write nowadays, especially with the first editions, explaining that Arabic poetry is volatile and rich.
She added that Arabic poetry carried many existential and humanitarian questions, as well as formal experimentation, pointing out to the point that there had been inter-generational breaks, particularly in the Gulf poetry scene; and that the younger generation had been affected by its surroundings, particularly non-Arab culture. This raises an important question about this poetics and the roots to which it belongs, as there is an attempt to indulge themselves in the surrounding reality, she added,” I also noticed the reduction and falling of the idea of the doer active intellectual who is trying to engage in the political matters, so that the poet could return to himself or re-reads the surrounding reality in a different way. Poetry paraphrases the idea of the intellectual in a new way that differs from that of the Siab generation, the Bayati and others. The poet sees himself as simple in the shades of a larger world.
She further added that the younger generation was drawn to simple poetics in which he presents his daily details, reflecting some kind of disconnect from reality, although there were many details that needed critical stops. We should not look at these experiences in a superficial way, pointing out that, when studying the criticism that was made about Badr Shakir Al-Siyab, it was mainly concerned with the famous poems and neglected plenty of his poetic production, she added that There is an interest in specific names or specific texts, and this does not show the true Arabic poetry for what they really are.
Concerning the feminist narratives and the issue of women’s resistance in writing, especially in the Gulf, critic, Maysaa Al-Khwaja said that as a result of multiple readings of many Arabic narratives and women’s writing in the Gulf countries and Saudi Arabia in particular, it was a search for how women write. She observed that there were features that were almost identical in the novels of Arab and Gulf women writers, chief among which was the first-person narration which gives the writer the ability to dominate her point of view. They try to make themselves focused, consciously or unconsciously, and work to exclude the other, or to show the man in a negative way, or that some of them quote from the man and do not make him speak in his own voice, which raises the question Why do women deliberately exclude men in their writing?
And about the arrival of female Gulf writers to express women in a philosophical sense, we see them as women on the surface based on rebellion in ideas and themes. However, there is a triumphant speech for the man as I found in the survey of 13 Saudi women writers’ novels, the cultural pattern is rooted in the subconscious.