Poetry waltzes through our veins; basking in our essence and penetrating our core, leaving us breathless, panting for more (and more). And lately, the scene in Kuwait is booming with poets. It is not that there are more poets, but more forums for bards to express themselves. Kuwait Poets Society is one such platform, and their movement is taking Kuwait by storm. This month, I got to interview the two co-founders of KPS: Rawa Majdi and AJ Saleh.
All manifestations are born of epiphanies. Tell us about the birth of Kuwait Poets Society.
The idea for KPS formed on January 11th, 2016. We wanted to create a space for poets to meet and get to know one another, and – especially – share and receive feedback on their current poems-in-progress.
Rawa tweeted out a call, and we received around 10 interested poets. A WhatsApp group was made, and we decided to meet for the first time at Shaheed Park on January 30th. It’s been a lot of growth and love since then!
Recently you hosted Voices & Verses, which was a profound success – and an event you are hoping to host on a monthly basis. Is anyone welcome to perform at your Open Mic events or do they have to be a member of your society?
Everyone is welcome! Voices & Verses is meant to be a cozy and comfortable place for first-time performers – who we like to call ‘baby poets’ – to test out their performance skills and build an audience. Some of the performers are our own poets, while some are poets who are not KPS members. And, of course, we have musicians doing their thing too. The application is open to all and we consider every single one that comes through.
Speaking of membership, what is your screening method?
Membership applications open and close every few months, and we often invite regular guests to our monthly meetings to become members.
KPS was formed on the basis of one rule: No hate. That is the most significant thing we look for in potential members. It’s important that members do not hold hate for others, or any racism, sexism, hate against religions, or hate against LGBT people. KPS must remain a safe space for all, as sharing poetry is a sensitive thing.
Robert Frost states that “[p]oetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words.” Such a simple statement, yet eloquently brimming with precision and truth. What does poetry signify to you?
Rawa: Frost put it perfectly. For me, poetry is finally finding the language to express a feeling, a sound, a taste, a memory, something that has followed me everywhere I go. When I am finally able to put it into words, it’s as though the ‘book’ of that snippet of something has closed, and I can put it to rest.
AJ: Poetry is all about connection to me. It’s about feeling something, and then reaching out to others in hopes that they feel it too. It’s about knowing that you are not – and never will be – alone in this world.
And finally, both of you are talented poets. Any plans to publish your work?
Rawa: It’s definitely in my plans to put together a collection of my work this year!
AJ: I have yet to venture into poetry meant for the page, but I’d definitely like to try it sometime. For now, stages will do.