RANDOM HANDSHAKES - ALI H. RADDAOUI

Sunday, January 17, 2010

THE WATERS OF MONTANA

In addition to everything else that it stands for, Wyoming is a land of horses, cows, deer and ranches. An appreciation of country is nothing unusual for many people here. Such topics have often come up in conversations I have had with friends and acquaintances in the past five months I have been here. Though I hail from North Africa, Arabia, or maybe because of that, I haven't found myself in territory that's completely unfamiliar. Among other things, I have listened with much interest and appreciation to Johnny Cash's song ‘Tennessee Stud’, and I know that in Arabic poetry, horsemanship, bravery, and traveling used to be very dear themes to many Arab poets. In these as well as in Johnny Cash's song, sound and meaning often merge, to create a perfect illustration of Alexander Pope's condition for poetic creativity: ‘The sound must seem an echo to the sense’. Recent conversations I have had with one Laramie artist on Robert Frost’s ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ also come to mind.

'The poem below titled ‘The Waters of Montana’ is a way a personal reaction, not exactly the result of personal experience, but a composite of I know, see, experience imagine and integrate. I use the Arabic name of ‘Antar’ as a name for my imaginary horse, and I see me thus traveling from Kansas to Montana, with the element of snow being added to the mix of personal knowledge and current experience.
***
THE WATERS OF MONTANA
As the hands of time
Ticked by
Antar and I
Scuttled, walked
Rested and galloped
From Kolby, Kansas
To the edge of Custer National Forest.
Snow and darkness
Overtook us.
We unpacked by a vale
To pitch the tent and wait for dawn.
Antar saw a brook
Fancied a drink
And as he stooped,
The water was turning into ice
And declined to get drunk.
Laramie, WY, January 16, 2010

4 comments:

marion said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Lucy

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Ali H. Raddaoui said...

Hello Marion,

Thank you for your kind words. I am moved by your statement. I think it represents another incentive for me to continue honing my skills and populating my blog. There are times when blogging becomes a mere footnote among other tasks that keep me busy, but I think it's comments like yours that give me impetus to continue sharing and receiving feedback.
***
Once again, thank you very much. I am honored.

Ali H. Raddaoui

Abigail Blue Jay Stone said...

I must admit that I enjoy your introductions to your poems almost as much as the poems themselves. I never thought of Wyoming as being like Arabia, but I love both places so perhaps they are not completely unalike. Somewhat desolate, vast, open, with a feeling of forever to them... Do you teach poetry?

Ali H. Raddaoui said...

Saying Wyoming is like Arabia depends which part of Arabia one is talking about, and maybe also which part of Wyoming. Tunisia, where I come from, is traditionally named 'Green Tunisia'. This applies more to the north of the country than to the center, and least of all to the south. As I was travelling to Riverton this past October, there were times when I really felt pretty much Home. I would say the mountains and hills reminded very much of the Tunisian south. I took many pictures of the scenary, and I think if I were to show them to folks back in Tunisia, they would most likely say they have seen this. There are many parts of the Arab world like that, vast, empty, and awe-inspiring in their own ways. I haven't lived for any extended periods of time in places where it snows in Arabia, but that exists. I guess the gist of the comparison is to say, like you have said, that I like both places, and associate with both. Now, I share that with you!

I am not a poetry teacher; my area of specialization is language teaching and learning. Like many people, I appreciate the gift of poetry and hope to use it as an additional means of expression of things I do not always have a chance to say in class, in conferences and in regular, day-to-day meetings.

I thank you for your interest.