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'Everything Dostoevsky Did': A New Poetry Collection by Tarek Hashem

'Everything Dostoevsky Did': A New Poetry Collection by Tarek Hashem

Wednesday, 23 March, 2022 - 08:00

Egyptian poet Tarek Hashem has released his new poetry collection, "Everything Dostoevsky Did", inspired by the world of the legendary Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and the cruelty, oppression, and abuse his characters lived.

Following his "Inventing Homer" collection in 2020, this is the poet’s second collection in classical Arabic, following five collections in the Egyptian accent, and two books in which he discusses the issues of the modern Egyptian song.

The new 93-page collection is published by Al Ahlia Library, Jordan, and features 27 poems that revolve around major literary characters in human history. It also discusses the cinematic scene, drama in theater, and music.

In his book, the poet turns the "Crime and Punishment" writer into a mirror that reflects flashes from the past and the present, and a tool of examination, knowledge, and wondering that he uses to make a personal and intimate reading of himself, his fears and dreams. A tool that he also uses to expose the reality, and unveil the marginalized, fake, and unspoken on the political and social levels.

The poems reflect a sense of loss and deprivation that reminds the reader of existential problems in a world of chaos and poverty, recalling many of Dostoevsky’s characters.

The collection supports the values of justice and freedom, and backs women in all their roles as friends, sisters, and mothers. This support can be noticed in poems like "My Dad in the Coffee Shop,” and “In the Narrow Pathway” in which the poet uses a concentrated language to form a poetic image opened on the past and present at the same time, and an ascending action affected by a virtual time that links what happened and what’s currently happening.

Some poems describe love as an embracing and creative emotional value filled with hope and freedom, and charged with a vivacity of senses, memories, and dreams.

The poet used Dostoevsky as an inspiration in his collection to humanize his poems, or at least create an outlet that helps the reader exchange fears, concerns, and overcome the problems of life.

An extract from the collection:

In a former life

I was a bookseller

Every morning

I shook hands with Dostoevsky

Pressing on it like sea presses the souls of ships

I counted the books

Like a child

Counts the days that precede holidays.


No homeland

A people sleep

After they lost their tears for an apple

That wasn’t more than a dream

Arabs sold for a rifle

That would target their flank.

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