Mohamed Oulad Adoom
Nouakchott - Mohammad Sharif Abeidy
Arabstoday has an exclusive interview with acclaimed Mauritanian director and poet Mohamed Oulad Adoom. Held at his office in central Nouakchott, the artist had a candid conversation with us about his poetry, how he draws out his dreams by wordplay, and anchoring them in reality. He says he adores beauty and that women are the driving force of the universe. We see many sides of the man - a poet, media personality and a rebel film director with big dreams for the future of Mauritanian cinema.
Arabstoday: Some poets have special influences, and so do you. On that note, what do women, love, and injustice to you?
Oulad Adoom: When the spirit of poetry comes within me, unlike some other poets I throw myself into sounds - the cries at the market, cars in the street, police sirens, and passers-by. I wander with all of that till a new poem emerges and my imagination is allowed to ferment for one or two days or sometimes weeks until it is released in its final form.
Women for me are at the root of the universe and the subtle energy that drives human existence.
Love is to close your eyes and open it finding yourself involuntarily driven behind a female eye.
But injustice is what man most inherited by the devil.
AT: Did you satisfy the poet's ego within you with your poem "Ashya'a" (Things)?
OA: Absolutely not, I didn’t satisfy my ego in my poem "Things" because it was my first work. Maybe I will in my later works, especially my new poem - currently under publishing - entitled "Female Beaches". I like it a lot, I think it’s the most credible and close to my true feelings, expressing my personal experience with woman. If "Ashya'a" represents my ten years' experience in writing poetry, "Female Beaches" will be ten years of experience in being with women. I don’t agree with people who say "the most beautiful poem is the most false one". Whatever it is, this statement can't be applied on my work, as I consider poetry creations of trust. My poems are a chain of experiences I live with.
AT: "Ashya'a" shows significantly the Arab sensation through refereeing to the past, mentioning some national issues as: "Saddam didn’t die", "The way Zohier spoke", "Something of Optimism" and others. Is this biased to humanity or nationalism?
OA: I believe in Nazar Kabany, maybe blindly. At least in the beginning, I considered him ideal even in my intellectual life. It is well know that Nazar was interested in national symbols, when I opened my eyes in that world I found Nazar teaching me behind my school studies, showing me the real world in simple words that made you love poetry instead of rebelling against it. Sometimes it may use street language, giving us a fine kind of literature...I respected him, read a lot for him, I believed in his experience, irrespective of his faults, which everyone can face. Maybe my adoration of him inspired me in a certain stage in my poetry, to talk under his name.
Also, maybe the pain I witnessed in my life when I saw children killed in Iraq and Palestine was a reflection of my humanitarian side, so I express my association with their case, so I belong to humanity, to the weak.
AT: You are the training director in the Mauritanian cinema makers' house; you worked hard to prepare for "National Film Week" every year since the house's establishment, has this experience made a significant change in your poetic life?
OA: I think those cinematic and poetic messages are the same as they come from me, but the interpretation is different, even if the receiver is different, and the two experiences are connected to each other, as through my work in cinema, I write poem through shooting by camera.
National Film Week added a lot for me, I see it’s a communication bridge between cinemaphiles to exchange experiences through its competition, and other colleges from Arab and foreign countries.
I adore documentary films where it’s the nearest to poems, and real life, but I still live this dream to write poem by camera.
I admire photographs and photography in general, as my start in poetry was connected to photography stint. I joined cinema and continued photographing, sometimes my friends ask for help in taking shots or filming TV programmes, as I always ask the cameraman to take strange shots. The photographer must study different types of shots like wide, medium, and close shots, and sometimes I ask for shots seemed to be meaningless at first sight. I'm just trying to break the rules in a simple way, I have a third eye which can see things, so why should I limit it with six or seven known ways to shoot? Why shouldn’t I have a new group of shots? Maybe because I didn’t study photography, or because I have a different background about in it. I started to photograph through my words, so maybe my style is slight different, I don’t know if this is good or bad, what I have carried to cinema.
AT: How does traditional Mauritanian society face cinema especially since they are connecting it to moral dissolution? Do you think society is able to go beyond this theory?
AO: At the beginning, cinema faced social problems before starting production. We tried to show society that cinema was a double-edged sword - if we used it in the right way it will benefit us, and if we corrupted it we will bear responsibility. Not all cinema is evil, I believe that the positive point is Mauritanian youth have begun working in cinema. They should start nationally, and know what society really wants, respect its privacy, as cinema workers in Mauritania know societal needs, know how to deliver their message and concepts, without harming the viewers' feelings.
I believe that soon society will reach a new creative stage. At that time we will care for creation more than society's feelings.