a poet on the edge

Saudi poet and novelist Ali al-Dimeeni, who has already been in jail for
a year, was sentenced on May 15 to nine years in prison for sowing
dissent, disobeying his rulers and sedition. He had written a letter to
the kingdom’s de facto ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, calling for
political, economic and social reforms – including parliamentary elections.

One poem fragment:
“In Eilesha, I tamed my loneliness, and on its walls I wrote my verses,” he wrote.

“My fellows and I have only called for justice/

Not for violence/

We only want to set up a rule of constitution/

Where men and women are treated equally/

From the dimness of the prison’s cell/

My verses will spring like a garden.”

I wonder what would have to happen for this to happen in this country? First, poets would have to start writing about subjects other than their own neuroses. Could it be that government oppression actually helps art? That by driving art underground, its edge grows sharper?

I’m not advocating the suppression of free expression, just wondering.

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