Reviving Classical & Free Verse Arab Poetry, Sayed Hashim

With nearly 150,000 followers on Instagram, Sayed Hashim has captured the hearts of many through his classical and free verse Arab poetry. His writings encompass every topic and resonates with people through his ability to tap into raw human emotion and connection.


We were able to catch up with Hashim and find out more about his passion for poetry and its connection to spirituality and faith.



When did you first discover your interest in poetry and how long have you been writing?


I discovered my solid interest in writing poetry somewhere in November 2020, and that’s when I wrote my first poem “The Belonging of the Moon to the Night” during a lonely evening. Reading poems has been an interest of mine since 2017, but creative writing is what I did since 2016.


Does your Arab / Bahraini cultural heritage influence your artistry?

The symbolism in our Bahraini culture has its remarkable place in and influence on my poetry. Pearls for example have been central to our culture, and are so in some of my best poems, such as “I am the Shell”. I find myself referring to the ocean - another instrumental part of culture - lavishly and in many ways and methods as well. The broad Arab culture does indeed greatly influence my poetry, especially since Arabic is my mother tongue for poetry, alongside all its strict poetic laws and styles.


Can poetry be the very expression of spirituality?

Poetry to me is a method of artistically releasing one’s emotions on paper. I believe every emotion is to some extent spiritual, and that spirituality expressed in poetic form is intertwined with the concept itself. Definitions of spirituality might vary in meaning and institution, but I confidently believe that most poetry is a result of some kind of spirituality.


Has writing helped your spirituality or vice versa?

It’s an interdependent relationship. When I write, parts of my spirituality become inspired in unexplainable ways. The journey of life is imminently spiritual, and that perception gives birth to the will to poeticize everything and everyone around me. One could say that it is rather a complex interdependent relationship that is optimistic and growth-centered on both ends.




Do you think about your audience much when you’re writing?

In the process of writing and poeticizing, no. I am usually an on-the-spot writer that could write while gazing at a friend, or a tree. The process of poeticizing is sacred to me, and thinking of what does not concern the object of poetry would, from my perspective, betray the essence. However, I do think of my audience before publishing the poem. I care immensely for their mental health and depending on the circumstances around the world, accuracy of what to publish and when to publish is crucial to my work.



Through your poetry, what do you try to convey to your readers?

The essence of my poetry rests on various themes: romance, friendship, virtue, ethics, politics, and Islam. The poetry often represents the advice of being principled. There’s often the “do good - be good” message in my poetry regardless of which theme the poem conveys. For example, in my friendship poem “If the Sunsets Have Vanished”, tightening the grip on one’s friendship with appreciation was the message throughout a dramatic poem.


What memorable responses have you had to your work?


Official testimonies for my work included those from journalist Faiza Saqib from The Independent, TV presenter Lama Gebreil from Extra News, founder Edisa Shahini of Disi Couture, world tennis champion Tradeja Majerič, poet Taher Adel, and more. I was invited to speak on a podcast called “InstaPoetic Justice” with poet Amy Sophiamehr, which is now published on Amazon Music and Apple Podcasts, and it was my first podcast revolving around my poetry. Other responses came from notable artists of different fields. These included ballerina Engy El Shazly, singer Selma Omari, actress Salma Abu Deif, and others. However, the most influentially memorable responses are ones that simply came from people saying my poetry calmed their heart or made them smile.


Can you tell us some of your favourite poets or artists who have inspired your work?


Classical Arab poets were always a source of will and motivation for me. Some of my most favorable include Safei al-Din al-Hilli (1276 - 1349) of Hilla, Antarah ibn Shaddad (525 - 608) of Najd, al-Farazdaq (641 - 730) of Kazma, Zuhair bin Abi Salma (520 - 609) of Najd, Jalal al-Din al-Rumi (1207 - 1273) of Balkh, Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (599 - 661) of Mecca, and many more of the greatest Arab writers. As for my English writing side, some of my favorite European poets included Oscar Wilde (1854 - 1900) of Dublin, John Milton (1608 - 1674) of London, and others.


If you had to choose a poem you are most proud of writing, what would that be?


The poem “A World We Live In” is currently my most impactful and the one which I’m ultimately proud of. I wrote it on August 15, 2021 as a means to take part in spreading awareness of the crisis in Afghanistan. It was a source of inspiration and deep emotion for Afghans and foreigners. I was able to connect the central Asian world to the Arab World, and thousands of Arabs attended Afghan protests. During the 28th of August International protests, verses of my poem were used in speeches around the world and as banner tags. Accompanying this poem was a piece I wrote called “Women of Life” to be read in Washington D.C. on 12th of September, 2021.



Has the pandemic impacted your work?


Definitely, and in positive ways. I’ve read a large number of poetry collections that I memorized different styles of poetry under both Arabic and English poetic laws. The themes revolving around my poetry became diverse in both wording and textual strategy.

It also convinced me to thoroughly care and pay heed to my audience’s mental health, and my own. My writing has improved rapidly. It also gave me the chance to start compiling my poetry into a book called “Letters from Me to You” which will be published in 2022.



Do you think that poetry has the strength to change the world?


I believe that it does. The same tremendous and prosperous effects it had centuries ago exist presently. When a poem has a target, it immortalizes the subject. Poetry uses emotion, and emotion can be used in colorful ways. Various times we have seen poems fundraising for huge sums of money to help the poor, as a serious tool of propaganda, a powerful means to spread an idea, or spread smiles. In many ways poetry at least impacts the world in influential ways.


As well as poetry, do you practice any other artforms?

I paint using both acrylic paint and spray, and I am a cellist as well. My painting styles are sometimes realist Impressionism and imaginative. Painting is something I am somewhat intermediate in. My cello’s name is “Maryam” and I am still a musical student with a few short songs up my sleeve.


What are your ambitions and aspirations as an artist?

I seek power from my poetry. I hope to one day as a single poet, be the result of tremendous and visible change. My aspirations would pragmatically lead to more happiness in societies and more fear in tyrants and evildoers. My will is to revive the classical ways of poetry and take part in expanding the reach of art to its deserved extent. Poetry is powerful, and as a person studying in the field of politics and international relations, I believe I could use it as a skill with realist and materialist results in the world. I am curious to know how it felt like for classical poets to have such power that influences history for centuries. I also hope to be a wonderful and skilled cellist!


Can you describe your interpretation of the future of Islamic art?


The future of Islamic art depends on the circumstances of our current Muslim World. In some places, the geopolitical arena is banning types of art, or heavily restricting it. However, in other areas, fine and liberal arts are incorporating Islamic ideals. Whether it be theatre, musical instruments, poetry, painting, or singing, Islamic art is expanding. The pace in which Islamic art diversifies and spreads is swifter than the pace in which it is being restricted. Creativity champions the artistic field. I believe with more organizations and artists, Islamic art will spread even faster.


For more information follow Sayed Hashim on Instagram


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