Ms. Tee over at B-side Beirut has a post about Ahmad Matar’s most recent poem, entitled “From Obama”, which has apparently been making the email rounds. The appearance of this poem may explain the strange incident I experienced yesterday. I was visiting my favorite bookshop in Hamra, and someone came in and asked K. — the bookseller — if he had any copies of Ahmad Matar’s diwan. He replied, uncharacteristically, with a simple: “No.”
About fifteen minutes later, someone else walked in — a woman with a Gulfi accent wearing a niqab — and asked the same question. Again, K. simply shook his head. When she asked him where she could find it, he said he didn’t know. She asked him if it was only available on the Internet, and he replied that it was in print. Ten minutes later someone else came in and asked for the diwan and K. suggested that they go to al-Dahiyeh and find it there. When I asked K. about what was going on, he said that Ahmad Matar had a new collection out, but it was published against his wishes.
“Against his wishes? What do you mean?”
“I mean, they published it in a very bad way. He had no say over it.”
I asked K. to elaborate but he simply shook his head.