Hello out there all you weary humans. Please come in, have a cuppa of your favourite hot beverage and spent some time exploring. Today I take you to Iraq another of the troubled Middle-Easter countries with such a long history and rich culture.
Yes, you read right: Babylon is situated in today’s Iraq and that is the country we are exploring. But first an announcement. From next Monday onwards “The Bee Writes…” hosts “Love Is In Da Blog” again. You can find more info at the end of this post. I am looking forward to this music and poetry event and you are invited to take part. “Come Away With Me 2021” returns at the beginning of March.
1. Introduction to Iraq
When we hear Iraq we probably think of war, Hussein, IsIs and terrorist attacks. And if you are a Christian or a history buff and have some knowledge of the old testament then you probably also think of Babylon, it’s tower and the Jews been living there. From what I know about Iraq, it might as well be the cradle of civilisation: the first written language, agriculture is supposed to have started there, the first cities and all the Abrahamic religions still have a hold there. And did you know that there are still some Assyrians alive? Yes, that is for the history and Old Testament buffs. Well, I did not know.
So what else does Iraq hold? Man made red lakes because of algae, a love for dancing, some of the oldest Christian societies and tombs to some high profile Muslims. Well, my knowledge otherwise is as minimal as yours (sorry if you have connections to Iraq or maybe are from Iraq: Feel free to let me know more) so let’s get some video’s to tell us more:
Again what stands out to me is the incredible hospitality of Middle Eastern people. And how life goes on despite terrorist threats and war. I feel it would be very nice if war could be a thing of the past for humankind and we learn that when it comes down to it we are all brothers and sisters. Let’s work for that.
2. An Artist of Iraq
Iraq has a huge cultural heritage which includes many incredible artists. I suggest you have a look at the Culturetrip page to find out more about their contemporary artists: 10 Contemporary Artists from Iraq You Should Know.
One thing that has become apparent to me through my exploration of the world’s countries is how much our image of other people, other countries and other cultures are influenced on what we see and hear in the media. So many Middle Eastern countries for us are mainly connected to either the extremely rich and/or war, terrorism and conflict. While these are important parts of these countries there is also the long history, the diverse culture and diverse people. And that is one reason why I am on this blog adventure.
But I digress again. Here is today’s artist: Hanaa Mallalah who lives in the UK since 2006 but has experienced several wars in Iraq where she comes from. She created her so-called “ruins technique” with which she tries to make sense of her experiences of war and most of all to translate these experiences to viewers who only know war from afar.
She developed the ruins technique out of pure necessity because “normal” materials for art were hard to come by. So many artists in war torn countries use anything that’s available to integrate into their art. I assume one example is Najada Hamza which I introduced in the Albania post. But here Hanaa in her own words:
To find out more about Hanaa Malallah have a look here on her page.
3. Climate Activists of Iraq
As we heard in Geography Now’s video in the introduction to Iraq the country has much desert land and suffers from sandstorms. On top of that climate change already depletes water resources and makes the country more vulnerable to conflicts. These two videos by Adelphi an independant think tank in Berlin explains how climate change and regional conflicts work together:
However, like in many other countries it is the young who just get down and dirty and change behaviour, inform residents and create positive change. The grassroots organisation Green Iraq organises people to plant trees where ever they can. They also have a network to help fight the theft of tools for gardening and even to help replant trees in private gardens that got too big. Unfortunately, their Twitter profile is only in Arabic. However, this article explains what is going on in Iraq’s “green revolution”
4. Food of Iraq
Ok, I make this short: just watch this video and be inspired 🙂
And if you feel inspired to try out some Iraqi recipes check out JUMA Kitchen’s post
5. A Poetess of Iraq
Nazik Al-Malaika is probably one of the most famous Iraqi poetesses. She is known being the first to use free verse in Arabic poetry. She studied comparative literature in the United States and then became a professor in Baghdad. You can find out more about her here on PoemHunter and listen to one of her poems and the translation here:
6. Mental Health in Iraq
I have to say I am speechless after watching this video. So much suffering. So I just leave you with the video because I feel it explains everything:
7. Some musicians of Iraq
Music is a great healer and so it is a pleasure to move on to a more cheerful part of “Come Away With Me”:
And where are we going next week?
Come Away With Me 2021 Musical Challenge Country for Monday, March 1st, 2021
From next Monday “The Bee Writes…” hosts the annual blog event “Love Is In Da Blog” and “Come Away With Me” pauses for a month. I hope to see you again in March, if you are not interested in the February challenge. Otherwise I am taking a rather random route around the world, but sometimes it makes sense. On March 1st we venture further East to Iran. Please find musicians from Iran on the SongLines page.
As for the suggestions to take part:
- Join in! No matter where, when and with what. You missed the first week? Don’t worry. Just jump in when it suits you.
- Send us the link! The ping-back option does not always work so please leave a link in the comments of the post on the day you take part. Or leave it at the “Come Away With Me 2021 FB page“
- Tag your post either with ” Come Away With Me Musical Challenge”/ #CoAwWiMeMuCh” / “Come Away with Me 2021 Musical Challenge” o/“CoAwWiMe2021MuCh” / . You can also use these as hashtags for Twitter and other Social Networks to give your post more exposure. If you add #blog and #music with your hashtags it will get you more readers.
- No matter which music or country the prompt favours you create with it whatever you please. This is supposed to be a fun challenge and no chore.
- I post a prompt for the next week with every “Come Away With Me 2021 post” I write.
- If you like, use this picture for your readers to find the posts.
Prompt List for Love Is In Da Blog 2021 “Great Love Stories”
As promised here are the prompts for “Love Is In Da Blog 2021” in February with the topic “Great Love Stories” so you can prepare. But first let me explain again why and what :-):
This year we top the annual “Love Is In Da Blog” event. I’ve decided to combine music with poetry and offer a prompt to a theme. The theme is “Great Love Stories” and you can either find a song for the prompt, write a poem for the prompt or do both. I’ve chosen a list of exciting love stories and am offering some poetry forms that I’ve never tried before and you maybe neither. That is why I put the prompts on all my “Come Away With Me” posts in January so we have enough time to prepare. What are the prompts? Have a look here:
- Choose your own
- Romeo & Juliet ~ Find a love song and/or write a Madrigal about them.
- Casablanca ~ Find an unusual version of “As Time Goes By” and/or write an Acrostic with this song title
- Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal (Taj Mahal) ~ Find a Bollywood song and/or write an Epitaph for lovers
- Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo ~ Find a Jazz love-song and/or write a Contrapuntal poem about Rivera & Kahlo
- Paris & Helen ~ Find a love song of war and/or write an ode to Helen & Paris
- Bonnie & Clyde ~ Find a Blues love song and/or write a Nonet about doomed love
- Choose your own
- The Butterfly Lovers ~ Find a pop love song with a butterfly in it and/or write a Gu Ti poem (second form in the article)
- Johnny Cash & June Carter ~ Find a country love song and/or write a Senryu about love
- Tristan & Iseult ~ Find a love folk song and/or write an Ae Freislighe about love
- Dr Zhivago & Lara ~ Find a “revolutionary” love song and/or write an Onegin Stanza about Zhivago and Lara
- Orpheus & Eurydice ~ Find a singer/songwriter song about love and/or write an Ovillejo poem about love
- Niulang and Zhinu (Cowherd and Weaver Girl) ~ Find a Valentine’s song and/or write a Sijo poem about love.
- Choose your own
- Pretty Woman ~ Find a great opera love song and/or write a Bop poem about Edwards & Vivienne’s love
- Cleopatra & Mark Antony ~ Find a 50’s love song and/or write a Descord Poem about love
- Gertrude Stein and Alice B Toklas ~ Find a chanson about love and/or write a Lai poem about Gertrude & Alice
- Sisi & Franz ~ Find an acapella Love song and/or write a Sestina poem about Sisi & Franz
- Lancelot & Guinevere ~ Find a love rock song and/or write a Hir a Thoddaid poem about love
- Choose your own
- Aragorn and Arwen ~ Find a classical love piece and/or write a poem in your own invented language (With translation please 😉 )
- Jackie Kennedy & Aristotle Onassis ~ Find a love song from 1968 and/or write a free verse poem about love
- Hadrian & Antinous ~ Find a metal ballad about love and/or write a Rispetto poem about their love
- Katniss & Peeta ~ Find a love song from the “Hunger Games” films and/or write a Tricubes poem about love
- Dante & Beatrice ~ Find an Italian love song and/or write a Palindrome poem about love
- Clara & Esteban (House of Spirits) ~ Find an exotic love song and/or write a Katauta poem
Looking forward to hearing your chosen songs and reading your poetry!
Just one more thing before you go: The hospital that is treating me is fundraising for a dedicated breast cancer unit which would allow some same-day diagnosis and better premises for patients and staff.
Please, if you can spare a little money hop over to their Just Giving Page and give as little or much as you can. Or share the page on your social media. So far the campaign has raised about half the amount needed: £418,648 of £800,000 (October 2020).
Your support means a lot to me! Thank you very much.
Thanks, my dears, for staying with me until the end.
I appreciate your presence.
Please stay safe, stay kind and remember that you rock!