marcel barang

Young Thai poets (2)

In English, French, Reading matters on 02/09/2010 at 6:33 pm

Zakariya Amataya – a native of the Muslim south born in 1975 – is on his first collection of poems, and a slim one it is, soberly presented, printed too small for my sunshades, but there is much to like in those forty or so pieces (all in free verse, my luck). The catchy title No women in poetry is also the title of one poem which I found silly and immature. I preferred the ones below.

Something or other

There must be something or other in this universe
That drifted off the time dimension
Something or other Columbus and Ulysses failed to survey
Something or other Greek and Arab astrologers missed
Something or other world prophets forgot to teach
Something or other that vanished in between black holes

Something wrong must have happened
Between the seams of the human lineage
That came apart at the time of the Flood
Something or other that failed to make Noah’s Ark
Something or other the Old Testament didn’t record
Something or other Nostradamus failed to predict

There must be some misunderstanding in this world
That has disappeared from the global population database
Something or other Plato didn’t figure out
Something or other Nietzsche failed to claim
Something or other Einstein didn’t tabulate
Something or other that has vanished…


We’ll inscribe your name
On every page
On every book
And in jail cells

We’ll carve your name
On every rock
Every grain of sand, every tree
And on every flower petal

Your memory will be recorded
In our eyes and our hearts
As wounds from thorns of roses
And songs of nightingales

In the dark sea the navy of hope
Casts anchor prior to docking
May you have dreams, doves and olive trees
White lilies, and sunlight in the morning

Our poems will sing
Your story for our descendants
It won’t be tales under starlight
Nor dreams as the sun shines

Palestine forever

The lyrics of not coming and not going

The electric train slides along the rails
Stretching far over the scenery
Of the megalopolis of all the angels
Prostitutes, teenage girls and labourers in suits
Poets, writers and mini-skirted young secretaries
Guards, section managers and low-grade teachers
Gays, butches, lipstick lesbians and drag queens of the third sex
The doors slide open and haemorrhage
Then there’s a flushing in and scrambling for yellow seats
How different are gentlemen, ladies and the living dead
On their dated vehicle?
The concrete jungle hoists its outline toward the sky
Creative deviance in the name of modern art
Post-modern, post-post-modern
                Post-affluence, post-post-affluence
Art for life, art for art’s sake, sui generis!
The lyrics of not coming and not going
Moan in deep recesses at dusk
In the darkest darkness darker walls hide
The lyrics of not coming and not going
Need no singer, need no musical instruments
But will sing for a long time to come 

And then, to my own surprise, this last one – actually the first I translated – came out in French:


Parmi les gemmes je suis caillou
Parmi les grains de sable, poussière
Parmi les fils et les filles, celui qui meurt enfant
Parmi les guerriers, le couard qui fuit la guerre

Parmi les réponses je suis question
Parmi les amoureux, motif à jalousie
Parmi les philosophes je suis l’idiot
Parmi les poètes, le sourd-muet

Parmi les plantes je suis ronce
Parmi les fleurs, pissenlit
Parmi les étoiles, étoile filante
Parmi les tyrans, le rebelle

Le long du rivage je suis écueil
Au sein de l’océan, le bas-fond
Parmi le beau, le hideux
Parmi les saints, le pécheur

Parmi les chansons je suis oraison funèbre
Parmi la vérité je suis mensonge
Au sein du vacarme, silence
Parmi les jours qui furent, le jour à venir

Parmi les œuvres d’art je suis tas d’ordure
Au sein de la civilisation, barbarie
Parmi les louanges, dédain
Au fil de l’Histoire je suis l’oublié

  1. Dear Mr. Barang,

    I am Zakariya Amataya, poet, and would like to thank you for introducing me and even including a review of my poems on your web site. By the way, even though I look a bit forty-ish to others (lol). I would love to be in my thirties as I was born in 1975 . Mr. Barang, please help me look better by swapping the old picture on your page with this one in attachment here. Thank you so much. Please feel free to contact me for any further information via my e-mail:

    best regards, Z.A

  2. Done, young man, with my apologies for making you wiser in years than you are.

  3. Thank you for your post Mr. Marcel. I only began writing poetry recently and have been wanting to read Khun Zakariya’s works for quite some time. Your selected pieces and commentaries have been most helpful. Merci beucoup!

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