Ahmed Bakhit … Searching for salvation in postmodern paths


“Warraq” store announced the imminent release of a new edition of the poetry works of the Egyptian Ahmed Bakhit (1966) in four volumes, including two volumes being printed for the first time in cooperation with Dar Al-Kilim in Egypt. Perhaps it is an occasion to write about the poet of all time. You read it when you are a child and a young man and when you reach the end of life … a poet who takes you on a journey through life, to stop at your own thresholds, and ask you the same questions that you ask yourself. Unconsciously, Bakhit may participate in many inquiries, and listen deeply to what is behind the lines and behind the hype of poetry. It is the heart when it hurts, and life when you are burdened with questions.Bakhit’s poetry represents the self-distraction of a postmodern person who tries to survive as a result of the alienation accompanying him, being an immigrant to Cairo from Upper Egypt, who wants to prove himself. We can also observe the poetic transformations in Bakhit’s work between traditionalism and modernity. More than that, we can trace its potholes in the path of the rural past on the city streets, restoring the first steps of artistic aesthetics towards the independence that Jean-Jacques Rousseau heralded when he replaced “I think, therefore I am” with “I feel …”. Bakhit’s poetic writings are an indication of a decisive shift from a purely irrational strategy (a postmodern trait) to a more conscious aesthetic strategy (a modernist trait) in achieving its expressive goals.

After Bakhit studied at the Faculty of Dar Al Uloom at Cairo University, and graduated in 1989, and worked as a teaching assistant in the Department of Rhetoric, Literary Criticism and Comparative Literature for five years, he decided to quit academic work; To devote himself to writing since 1995. He took this step because he felt that the academic work began to steal his poetics and creativity, so he decided to devote himself to writing because he believed that creativity is no less important than practical work, because creativity is a complete work that takes all life, and deserves to be devoted to the creator.
Therefore, since Bakhit published his first poetry work “Farewell, O Desert” (1998 – Zewail Publishing House), we note that flow and change, dispersion and fragmentation, formed the basis for the material influence of modern life in Cairo for Ibn Upper Egypt, and decisively. Given the poet’s subjectivity, he tried to challenge this process of alienation, or more precisely, to coexist with it, to dominate it, or to swim in its waters. Overall, Bakhit realized that he could not, in any case, ignore it. Hence, his poetry works continued, most notably: “Layla Shahd Al Isolation” (1999 – Zewail Publishing House) and “Layla Silence Al Kilim” (2002 – Bakhit Publications), to confirm that he is a poet who is able to focus his vision on the ordinary topics of contemporary life and to understand its changing characteristics, He can, however, extract from the fleeting moment all the elements of immortality inherent in it.
The treatment of childhood and adolescence in Bakhit’s work represented the extraction of the eternal from the transitory and the transient. This fleeting or transitory element Bakhit was unable to overcome, since the transient and escaped element, whose transformations are very frequent, cannot be dispensed with since it formed Bakhit the mature. Rather, the abolition of the first periods would have cast Bakhit into an aesthetic abstraction that is difficult to define his poetic texts. According to the definition of the great French poet Baudelaire in his study “The Painter of Modern Life” (1863), temporary, ephemeral, and permissible, it is half of the poetic work; While the eternal and the immutable are the other half. Only a mature poet – according to Baudelaire – can find the permanent totality, and “distill the bitter taste of the wine of life” from the fleeting and fleeting forms of beauty in his daily life. The more the poetic text succeeds in that, the more it becomes poetry for us; Or more precisely, it becomes a responsive poetic text expressing the chaotic scenario in our lives.
In Bakhit’s poem “Ramallah”, we find him delighting us with these verses: “The farmer of this land .. My age is my wheat, and I sowed most of it .. I reaped at least sixty deaths with me, and after a teenager .. I am grayed out .. She is my tears.” These few verses summarize our general view of Ahmad Bakhit’s poetry in two points: The first is the confrontation between the immortal and the transient, present in nearly all of his modernist poems. Returning to Baudelaire once again, we find that poetic modernity aims to acknowledge the transitional moment as an authentic past of a present that will come. So, Baudelaire distinguished literati from their constant nostalgia in light of the current event. The second point is Bakhit’s traditionalism, which dates back to the eighteenth century to the middle of the nineteenth century, where the romantic tendency saw a return to the past or the representation of nature as interesting subjects for literary works. Bakhit, with his modernity, traditionalism and romantic inclination, achieves a difficult equation, which Baudelaire refers to in the objectively ambiguous situation of understanding modernity as an attempt to transform the fleeting everyday into the immortal symbolic. Likewise, tradition and romance are the negative response to realism, which Baudelaire describes as a disgusting insult thrown in the face of all recipients. It is a tendency – that is, realism – ambiguous and mercurial that does not mean for a person an accurate description of things.
And the paving path for the alienation of man and nature made poems by Ahmed Bakhit that “do not say something, but are the same thing,” as TS Eliot points out, as Eliot tracks the evolution of poetry, and readers’ reception of poetry, as a continuous development towards increasing the reader’s awareness of the symbol. This stage of progress is what Elliott considers the modernity reached by the French Symbolist poets from Baudelaire to Valerie and passing through Malarme. Modernity here is characterized by concern for symbol, as opposed to less interest in the subject, which becomes merely a means of conveying the goal or achieving it. The goal, of course, is beauty in itself, and this is what I can claim is relatively different for Ahmed Bakhit, as his poems are “pure poetry” in the expression of the Spanish philosopher Ortega y Gasset (1883-1955) interested in mixing poetic, romantic and natural output without erasing the human elements.
There are characteristics that distinguish Ahmed Bakhit’s poetry: The first is the high degree of self-awareness of the poet that his art is an art and not an employee in the service of something else. The second feature depends on the first, is that this self-awareness pushed Ahmed Bakhit to more individuality and subjectivity, and trying to create his own style that distinguishes him from other artists, whether his contemporaries or previous ones. Bakhit is not the first to refer to himself in a number of his poems in the South, as it is a habit that almost all poets of Upper Egypt acquire due to their differences in form and methods of narration and writing. Al Janoubi is a wide umbrella of an open identity under which Amal Dunqul, Syed Al Adaisi, Hassan Amer and others are united by the severity of thinness and the weight of talent. From here we notice that the artistic heritage has become a burden on Bakhit and a part of the outside world that seeks to free himself from it and produce his art in isolation from it. Thus style becomes a means of asserting oneself against the world. The poetic style becomes a product of the subject, the subjective or the ideal part of the poet, an affirmation of this aspect as opposed to the objective aspect or that which belongs to the world. And the third feature, which is intertextuality, which is one of the most important axes of enriching significance, and makes Bakhit’s poetic text more radiant and symbolic. Intertextuality as presented by the literary critic Julia Kristeva is nothing but a plurality of systems, their infinite (circular) reproducibility. Roland Barthes defined intertextuality more strictly, making the text a collection, quotation and overlap with other texts that preceded it; As the poet here can only simulate a previous movement for him always, without this movement being originally original. We can agree with Barth here, noting that the vitality, symbolism, and radiance of Bakhit’s texts stem from a special kind of intertextuality, which is “religious intertwining.”

He reintroduced the religious heritage, which is a generous source of literary models and themes

Bakhit has reintroduced the religious heritage, which is a generous source of literary models and topics, and worked to include his poetic texts selected religious texts by quoting from the Qur’an, hadith and other divine books with the original text of the poem so that these texts are in harmony with the poetic context and serve an intellectual, artistic or purpose Both together. The third feature in Bakhit takes us back to the poet and critic Matthew Arnold (1822-1888), who pointed out that modernist art could occupy the traditional position that religion occupied in the Middle Ages. Therefore, it is entrusted with the function of providing a holistic view of human life, clarifying the human position in life, drawing a self-image for him, and imparting a regularity to the world and the human experience.
In the end, dealing with the eyes of a critical and loving critic of Ahmad Bakhit’s texts is extremely difficult, but reading critically can be considered a means of extracting historical truth and acquiring knowledge through symbolism and philosophical and religious insights. At the same time, Baudelaire’s advice, in which he called for art to abandon any transcendent status, remains; That is, the rejection of every situation that takes it out of the realm of producing beauty to any philosophical or moral responsibility. So poetry will only fulfill its internal function, which is to produce beauty. This will necessarily lead to imposing new standards for judging poetry, and these standards will be internal psychological standards, unrelated to morals or the status of poetry in society.

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