Thursday, March 3, 2011

Libyan-American poet Khaled Mattawa on the NewsHour!

from NewsHour, an interview with Libyan-American poet Khaled Mattawa...

JEFFREY BROWN: what do they say this uprising means in personal terms to them and for you?

KHALED MATTAWA: It means the world to them. I think people were kind of scared at the beginning, but things happened so fast, that if you had any iota of caution, lots of people just threw it away, because it became a decisive moment for a lot of people.

"I have to join this great cause" is what people told themselves, and in an individual fashion. And they did. They events -- from within hours, it turned from people being afraid to saying, the moment of truth has come; I have to join this effort.

So, there's great relief in Benghazi. There's great relief all over Libya. A friend told me that he took his 80-year-old father to the courthouse in Benghazi, and he saw the flag, the independence flag, flying over it, and the old man broke down in tears, thinking that he would never live to see this moment.

So, people are feeling a great relief at having this dictator out of their lives. They're worried, of course. They're worried about what he might do, what Gadhafi might do. Will he hit them with airplanes? Will he manage to bring more mercenaries to Africa to hit them? They're worried about how things will gel up as far as even the administration of their own cities.

The chaos is wonderful, in the sense of all the strictures are gone, but a kind of order needs to emerge. And the people that are being put in charge in the city right now, these committees that are running the cities, are -- are exhausted. They need to establish structure, as well as to make sure that security is maintained.

But the -- to tell you the truth, this country, Libya, is being created anew. People are having a national moment, the moment of themselves as being Libyan, neither western nor eastern. And so every event that is positive, that is strengthening them, is making them feel much more united and -- and actually feel a sense of a new life in them, a new lease on life in them as -- to them as individuals and as a nation.


crusherrun said...

Hello Phil, and Khaled, if you're listening. I think of you both these days, amazing days, and trust you are well and lifted by all these sudden events, sudden but long-called-for.

All best,

Philip Metres said...


Good to hear from you! I presume this is Roger Mitchell. I actually spied you at AWP, but you were thick in conversation, so I thought I'd let you have that one moment of intimacy and peace amid the maelstrom. Hope all is well with you!