Asharq Al-awsat English Middle-east and International News and Opinion from Asharq Al-awsat Newspaper

Poets Debate Authenticity of Facebook-Produced Literature

Poets Debate Authenticity of Facebook-Produced Literature

Monday, 6 November, 2017 - 11:00
The Facebook logo is displayed on their website in an illustration photo taken in Bordeaux, France, February 1, 2017. (Reuters)

The social media boom, especially the one occupying the Facebook platform, has given rise to questions across the Arab world. These questions have focused on the authenticity of the literary works that are posted on the social media platform.

Polling a number critics and poets, who belong to different literary schools, Asharq Al-Awsat dove deeper for a closer look.

Salah Al-Laqani, a renowned 1970s Egyptian poet, stated that Facebook is the vastest cultural and political democracy brought about by modern times. But he points out that the revolutionary platform has failed in producing a new line of poets.

“It (Facebook) hasn’t made new poets, but has been known by established and modern ones,” he added.

Bahiya Talb, a 1990s poet, said she does not believe in the poetry of those who choose Facebook as an outlet.

"I do not believe in the poetry of these poets; they are just thoughts that relate to their followers, and certain cases that do not necessarily translate into words."

Mohammad al-Qalini, an established prose poet, noted that Facebook is more like a “light snack” and cannot make a major culture in terms of writing.

To Facebook’s advantage, he admitted that the virtual podium has managed to “shorten distances,” saying that now “poetry travels with no passport, moving from the poet’s hand to the reader’s eye instantaneously.”

Poet and critic Khalid Hassan remarked that Facebook helped in creating “a true atmosphere for poetry”, which allowed for the discovery of real poets who were previously not being heard.

“It also gave the opportunity for anyone to say anything and name it poetry,” he criticized.

Syrian poet and novelist Mohammed al-Othman said that Facebook granted poets the platform to “spread their poems and word”.

He revealed that he personally, through Facebook, got acquainted with important names that he was not familiar with before.

On the other hand, Moroccan academic and critic Dr. Abdulsalam Al-Masawi said that it is a stretch to label everyone who publishes on social media as a “poet” per se. He noted that they are not conventional poets and do not meet the traditional standards of poetry.

Paradoxically, Masawi also argued that "even within these standards” variations take place.

“Some rules are fixed, and some bend in sync with societal changes,” he added.

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