Abu el-Qasim Khamar
Algeria - Hussein Bu Saleh
He received us in his home which is full of culture and knowledge in Hydra Algeria with his known smile, his son welcomed us with red tea. In an intimate atmosphere we remembered the old lovely era, about the nation and its wounds, about the weak cultural scene nowadays and about his 50 year writing journey. as he spoke to us and opened his heart during our special visit with the Algerian poet Mohamed Bu Qasim Khamar.
Arabstoday: half a century writing about independence and revolution for this nation and its injuries, how did you start writing?
Abu el-Qasim: I started writing when I was 14 years old; I remember the first book I read which my father gifted to me "Kalila and Dimna". I studied literature through sheikh Abdel Radman Shiban, I remember a story with him from when I was student at Ibn Badis institute, one day he read a poem by Shawky, I found a mistake in the poem’s balance and I informed him about it when he was sure I was write he told me "you will be a poet Khamar." At the beginning my poems were classic mixed with some religious touches, my first poem was full of pessimism I remember some of it "time is too long flying , and tribulation has increased, my mind astonished from age spent in vanity…I didn’t read science which can benefit me and I don’t have a mill earn me a living” with studying literature and deep reading of Mutanabbi, Abu Firas al-Hamdani and others I began to practice writin my first published poem was in Algeria’s el-Manar newspaper in 1953.
I wrote the free poem published in Tunisia 1952, all my works centredon loving my nation, and interactive poems if it was about meditation and philosophy, I wrote 18 poem collections with most of them about revolution, nation and its injuries.
AT: Atfalna publishing house printed your anthology; does it mean that you have stopped writing?
AQ: Every start has an end, I am actually depressed that despite my passionate struggling in the revolution, I was marginalized in all ways and I began to witness the disappearing of national soul, our lovely nation is a game for opportunists to hand in different images which I can see and live in, this is what depressed me day after day and why for more than two years I haven’t wrote any poems.
AT: Every literatary touch is considered a new addition, your work delivers a strong national message, what is your addition to the Arabic poem?
AQ:I believe that poems have a mission. It’s a way to express your feeling and freedom, representing Algeria in the image of state of needing liberation, I never tried to trim my poems as I have a job to let the world hear me not just read my poems, I never searched for fame, most my poems were messianic exceeding its beauty, as after independence most of my works were about the nation and insurgency and so many extended issues killing the nation.
AT: do you feel poem now in good hands, or intruders corrupted Algerian literature?
AQ: I trust the new generation of poets, despite the presence of this intruding phenomenon, but only good poets stand, the unreal can't stay long time.
AT: do you consider the Arab spring revolution a new writing stage, will this be reflected in poets?
AQ: A poem is a moment of inspiration where the poet feels according to different variables. feeling all its moments with the events directly touch a poet’s nation and citizens, what is happening in the Arab nation now can't be called a revolution as the revolution has a leader and structure but it’s a popular uprising led by youth against corrupt regimes. But these events are manipulated by foreign hands as they are watching us, our youth have to take precautions as the West aims to weaken our nation, exerting extreme efforts trying to control our youth through all available channels and weakening our nation on the other side. We all agree that what is happening will have a positive temporary meaning.
AT: Literature intruders are increasing, among publishing chaos and the tyrannical business of creativity, how we can we fighting this phenomena?
AQ: It's very important to talk about this issue which needs the acting sides to interfere and take actions to find solution and Algerian literature market became a farce, if the writers’ union was doing its role without interest disputes, it will prevent publishing unless according to an exact plan through public or private institutes.
AT: Algerian intellectuals and writers have gone in the last years such as Omar el-Barnawy, el-Taher Watar, Abdel Rahman el-Gilaly, and Abdullah el-Rokayby, where Algerians didn’t give them what they deserve, what is your comment?
AQ: Those and others who enriched Algerian literature and knowledge, simply because they deliver a message without interest, considering Algeria is there target and their duty is to serve their nation so the state has to grant them their right, instead of devoting mediocre policies and double standards for all working in the culture sector. Our writers may have left their bodies but they are living through their works which can benefit the coming generations, history will do justice to opportunists and real writers.
AT: do you read many youth writers?
AQ: Sure I do, I am very optimistic about young Algerian girl writers, I saw them in many seminars (Batena and Baskara) I was fascinated by so many poets and their qualified way of writing.
AT: In your 80s how are you living these days?
AQ (smiling): days are the same, mostly soebt at home. I only go out to pray or to cut my hair as at home I can follow news in newspaper and television and watch Bedouin and foreign movies. I read books but not all the time.
AT: do you think about writing your memoirs?
Actually it’s a dream, I don’t think about it as I am afraid that my nature tends to satirise so mostly it will be negative. It will bedisgracing more than explaining so I prefer not to write.