Poetry by Yahia Lababidi نبذة عن الشاعر يحيى لبابيدي

Yahia Lababidi ( يحيى لبابيدي) is the author of eleven books of poetry and prose. Lababidi’s most recent works are a collection of his meditative aphorisms, Quarantine Notes (2023); Desert Songs أغاني الصحراء (2022) ; and Learning to Pray (2021). 

For more, please, subscribe to the short literary videos he, regularly, posts on his YouTube channel.  

Here are samples from his poetry in English and Arabic:

Lectio Divina

Unconsciously, I have practiced
for years—a lifetime, really—
reading as a mysterious way
to meditate and almost pray

Slowing down to a stillness
to discern the Divine voice
I have written verse
(or something like it)
in a blessed trance…

These signposts for living well
I have shared, freely, with the world
and, more deliberately, with myself.

The Light-keepers 

Hope is a lighthouse
(or, at least, a lamppost)
someone must keep vigil
to illumine this possibility

In the dark, a poet will climb
narrow, unsteady stairs
to gaze past crashing waves
and sing us new horizons

Others, less far-sighted, might
be deceived by the encroaching night
mistake the black for lasting, but
not those entrusted with trimming wicks

Their tasks are more pressing—
winding clockworks, replenishing oil-
there is no time for despair
when tending to the Light


الكلمات كالأيام:
كتبُ تلوينٍ أو نشّالون،
علامات إرشادٍ، أو أعمدةُ خَدْشٍ
فقراء يتحلقون حول جمار متقدة.

ثمة كلماتٌ معيّنة يجب أن تُكتسب
تماماً كما تُعانَى العواطف
قبل أن يصبح من الممكن نطقها،
نظيفة كوعدٍ محفوظ.

الكلمات شهودٌ
يدلون بشهاداتهم
الحقيرة أو السامية
التي لا مفرَّ منها، وغير القابلة للدحض.

لكن الكلمات ينبغي ألا تُحمَّل
أكثر من طاقتها
هذا ليس جيداً لمظهرها
أو سمعتها.

لأنه سواء رقصتْ وحيدة
أو مع شريكٍ لا مرئي
كل كلمة كون
يذيب كلَّ ما هو أخرسٌ.

Here is more info from his Amazon Page:

Lababidi's recent publications include DESERT SONGS (Rowayat, 2022) his love letter to Egypt's deserts featuring Arabic translations by esteemed Syrian poet, Osama Esber, and transporting images by Moroccan photographer, Zakaria Wakrim; as well as LEARNING TO PRAY: a Book of Longing (Kelsay Books, 2021) which the Dean of Cambridge Muslim College, Abdal Hakim Murad, says 'summons us to a spiritual but entirely undogmatic journey.' Carla Power, author and former Newsweek correspondent, describes Learning to Pray this way: "In lean, luminescent verse, Lababidi has created a portal into quiet worlds, guiding us to be our best selves. He reminds us of the richness of the stilled and savored. In difficult times, his poems help the reader to summon courage and beauty."

In 2020, Lababidi published REVOLUTIONS OF THE HEART (Wipf & Stock) a collection of essays and conversations, at the intersection of literature, social activism and mysticism. He is, also, the author of 2 critically-acclaimed books of aphorisms: SIGNPOSTS TO ELSEWHERE (2019) and WHERE EPICS FAIL (2018).

Featured on PBS NewsHour, Lababidi's short meditations were generously endorsed by President Barack Obama's inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, who wrote: "Aphorisms are an ancient form, but its current-day master is Yahia Lababidi." Signposts was selected as a Book of the Year by The Independent (UK) and issued by Hay House, publishers of Deepak Chopra, Dr. Wayne Dyer and Marianne Williamson.

Lababidi, Egyptian-American thinker/poet, and author of 5 other well-received books of poetry and prose, has been invited to speak at Oxford University and NPR as well as being featured in Best American Poetry, World Literature Today, On Being with Krista Tippett, The Guardian and Al Jazeera, among several other esteemed cultural outlets.

Lababidi's BALANCING ACTS: New & Selected Poems (1993-2015), published by Press 53, is a celebration of more than twenty years of his poetry. According to Chard deNiord, Poet Laureate of Vermont, it 'resonates in plain-spoken yet dazzling poetry--sometimes epigrammatic, sometimes expansive--that betrays the eclectic transmissions of Lababidi's myriad influences, from Rumi to Kierkegaard, Dickinson to Kafka.'

Also by Lababidi is an eclectic collection of cultural essays, TRIAL BY INK: From Nietzsche to Belly Dancing as well as two poetry volumes, FEVER DREAMS and BARELY THERE, a collection of his shorter verse, much of which was inspired by the constraints of social media and touches on the life of the spirit. Along with Alex Stein, he is also the co-author of a genre-bending book, THE ARTIST AS MYSTIC: Conversations with Yahia Lababidi.

Lababidi's work appears in numerous anthologies, including Short Flights (Schaffner Press, 2015) a unique anthology that draws together the work and musings of 32 leading pioneers of short-form writing, or aphorisms. He is the only contemporary Arab writer in the encyclopedia: Geary's Guide to the World's Great Aphorists, and the youngest poet included in the best-selling US college textbook, Literature: an Introduction to Reading and Writing (10th edition).

Lababidi was one of twenty-two powerful voices, from poets and novelists to actors to take part in the activist anthology: Small Blows Against Encroaching Totalitarianism Vol. 1 (McSweeney's, 2018). He is also one of around a dozen distinguished artists and thinkers featured in the anthology, Masks: Bowie & Artists of Artifice (Intellect Books, 2020) alongside artists and thinkers such as: Slovenian philosopher, Slavoj Žižek and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Gary Valentine (founding member of the New Wave band, Blondie).

Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, three times, Lababidi's writing has been translated into several languages, including: Arabic, Hebrew, Slovak, Spanish, French, Italian, German, Dutch, and Swedish. Otherwise, several video-poems based on his work, have been shown at film festivals, worldwide, while he has participated in international poetry festivals throughout the USA, Europe and the Middle East.

Lababidi was chosen as a Juror for the 2012 Neustadt International Prize for Literature - a biennial award widely considered to be the most prestigious international literary prize after the Nobel Prize in Literature.

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