The Kai’ku: a brief what-when of the “but-why?”

bleed slowly through your dreams
the visage is heaviest when the shadow
pierces your masks –

The above is a specimen of a Kai’ku, a lesser known poetic form where the rule is, “aim for a certain number of syllables; if you get it, it’s ok, and if you don’t, then no need to sweat your syllable tree!”

Kai’ku, loosely translated in the Indo-Pakian as “but why?”, is said to have been disemminated by a handful of lesser-known – this is key – mystics going about their un-enlit ways around about the same time as an enlit guy called bodhidharma was bordercrossing Indo-China.

In another account, the origins of Kai’ku have been linked roughly with the time when another enlit – laotsu – bordercrossed, and the gatekeeper requested him to write a little something. Kaikuans would have been least bothered by such inane requests, so this account is less tenable.

Palestine: Fadwa Tuqan’s poems and data on women’s education

And here is my second attempt at bridging the three areas: poems, justice and data visualization. This time, it’s the Palestinian poet, Fadwa Tuqan, whose poems I have highlighted alongside some charts depicting the progress over the years on a number of women’s education indicators in the West Bank and Gaza.

(Earlier, I had used Audre Lorde and Muriel Rukeyser’s poems with gender data.)

One of the intentions of this exercise is to confound the categories: poetry and data. Of all things, it makes the least sense to compartmentalize poetry. Another thing I am attempting is calling out the patriarchal biases everywhere esp. when it comes to social justice where it again makes least sense. So in the case of poetry from Palestine, it is generally the males – esp. Mahmoud Darwish – who seem to stand in for all Palestinian poetry. The poems here by Fadwa Tuqan stand to correct this imbalance. Also, the indicators on women’s education in the West Bank and Gaza are quite encouraging.

Poet as antipoet

the de-struct-ed poem, whose cement
vies for wholedom,

its un-liver-ed masonry depleted as
bones ran out of

bone      to break song with song with
song as much as

the eye stains the gullible pen as much
as the pool of

ink stutters      did it matter then as it
doesn’t now?