‘My SUFI GHUTI’ by Sana Janjua

I clear my goddamn throat
with organic, saffron-shaded, Sufi Ghuti-

its superfood ingredients hand picked
from indigenous, stolen territories
by migrant workers and undocumented laborers,
patiently turning their ethanol-dusky sweat
into plastic-protected fruits I peel labels off from
– a brew of California apples, BC berries
reddened, like desire, with local beets-
which I lick as a concoction to give my
goddamn chest a birth-inducing thrust

to say “ALLAH!”,

as I gurgle out the news of a
“bomb nearly as nuclear as a bomb can be”
-thrown acid-facedly on Afghani soil-
into a pale sink turning blight and spongy
like my own mindless mind.

Some native informant,
I contemplate,
capture the scene of this acid faced-ness

-Phallic Pentagon: the imperial center
of rape, and rupture-

and make an award winning documentary,
so I could applaud
with all my limbs in limbo,
like a freak unleashed.

Every night, as a narcotic balm,
I turn to my Sufi Ghuti
– licking it-
to assuage my guilt of seeing too much suffering
with a tradition
set aside for balancing the worse with the good
-a tradition that a few good men
(residing in an hypoxic,
upper class intellectual wardrobe)
curated to get past the thorny delirium

that organizing and agitating,
and losing one’s mind happens to be-

because the oppressor ambushes from
“both sides now”, as Joni Mitchell sings.

Adrift on a low sail and high moon,
I soften the edge of the Ideological
with the narcotic mirth of my Sufi Ghuti,
and whirl into misty obscurantism

-the throttled misery of a child in echolalia-

as I ponder if it’s Marx or Bakhsh,
that makes me more air-lifted?

To my lover,
I write: I will fight for the visa
regardless of the contradictions-
so dialectical it sounds that I,
feeling enough ghuti-ized,
hum my forlornness
into the lungs of the daylight.

But, the night descends, you know,
and, I get lonely.
It feels like the end of days, as Syrians tell us,
and frankly speaking,
the Promised Messiah isn’t coming to town this year either.

(April 14, 2017)

Sana Janjua is a poet, performer and playwright who is a Founding Member and the President of Surrey Muse. She works as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse, and enjoys working in the field of mental health.
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‘Rainshed Dream’ by Sana Janjua

The purple midnight of Jhelum
crawls over the rainshed memory
I have of you – drenched,
tipsy with pubescent desire,
as if you will light up the mosque in
which we played cards
with your skill at the game- those nerved hands-
and the soul of that fluttering heart,
all mine.
Outside, it poured
and I cajoled you on
with my nascent dialect
that was too outlandish to
your upper middle class upbringing.

A jackal  whimpered in the distance,
somewhere where jackals reside.
The pack moved closer in inches
towards the story, so that the epic

(our love story)

became an unmoored myth
of belligerent animals
that slime out of nocturnal spaces,

howling,

which perturbed your
sophisticated sensibilities,
making me an incongruity to your prestige,

your high end, red bricked house,

heaving its mighty benevolence

in the midst of an anthill, my residence.

Your story had to be written with the
nib of a peacock feather,

dipped in the splash of white gold,

imbuing the stately shades

you have in your heroic blood,

when you so generously grant me
a smile,

a glimpse,

(and, nowadays)

a small touch

so i may burn,

burn at both ends.

i have no where to go,

but to hide in the shadows

my voice

generates on the periphery

of your vision.

My genesis lies in
the idea of the possibility

that i may exist,

that i may very well be born

under the weight of

your rib cage.

It’s you,
who has brought me to life.

Between us, there is a galaxy

of contradictions,

and of a singular realization

that you are the guardian of my imagination,

and i am the silhouette of your past.

All this time,
in looking at you and the passing nights,
I only had a longing– a wild cry–

inherited and passed down the line of
old city’s song writers who feed on
the wisdom and chirping of migratorial birds;
right here from my throat
to my stomach is
but a cry, –a wild cry–
a song bird’s devotion,
nothing to quell your taste in music and noble art.

You have spent days
unlearning the dignified aesthetics
of your social class
when you play Salman Ahmed
on a small guitar,
that tune which had no song attached to her,
no burden attached.
It is a free tune and
we are free to touch each other,
as we hold  each other’s hands,

wanting to kiss the august sky
in the imagined street named after

you and me.

Mad reverie,
Somewhere in the world,
There is a street named
after our unrequited love.
Find me that, and

find me your love.

Sana Janjua is a poet and a playwright who is also the President of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature presentation/discussion group.

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Thanks Giving for Books

This November, we are motivated to remember the books that made a difference in our lives, and to offer thanks to the authors for writing them. Giving thanks below are Mariam Zohra Durrani, Sonja Grgar, Sana Janjua, Randeep Purewall and Fauzia Rafique.
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My ‘loved’ books

Journey to Ixtlan, Carlos Castenada
Affirmed personal metaphysical philosophy

Native Son, Richard Wright
Increased sociopolitical awareness about north america.

Primitive Offense, Dionne Brande
Influenced poetic work.

Sula, Toni Morrison
Touched by sula and toni.

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
Healing; reincarnation of my ancestors and homeland.

Incognito, David Eagleman
Affirmed and empowered my personal metaphysical philosophy.

The Biology of Belief, Bruce H. Lipton
Affirmed and empowered my personal metaphysical philosophy.

A Woman’s Herbalist, Kitty Campion
Gave knowledge of herbs and techniques and concoctions.

Mariam Zohra Durrani
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Books I am thankful for

Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions, Diana Johnstone
Academically rigorous exploration of the role of the West and NATO in the breakdown of Yugoslavia, and one that exposes many of the propagandist depictions of Serbia that were promoted by western mainstream media during that time.

Sophie’s Choice, William Styron
Artful and heartbreaking account of the effects of holocaust on those who have survived it, and on those of Jewish identity in general.

Anna Karenina , Leo Tolstoy
Complex and beautifully philosophical portrait of 19th century Russia and stifling social norms that drive its heroine to her demise.

The Namesake, Jhumpa Lahiri
Stunningly eloquent and touching portrayal of the immigrant experience in America, and the complexities of composite cultural identities.

The Tyranny of E-mail, John Freeman
A much needed and rare critical look at the often blindly celebrated cyber world we live in.

Geographies of a Lover, Sarah de Leeuw
An incredibly skillful book of erotic poetry that uses the raw imagery of BC landscape as a metaphor for the vigour and fullness of female sexuality

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
A raw and brave account of a Pakistani woman’s life back home and in Canada, unflinching in its critical portrayal of patriarchy and chauvinism in both societies, yet laced with a warm, yet never sentimental, homage to the lead protagonist’s homeland

Sonja Grgar
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I love these books

In the Skin of Lion, Micheal Ondaatje

An Equal Music, Vikram Seth

The Wretched of the Earth, Fanon, the God

The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing

Black, George Elliot Clarke

The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi

The Little Match Girl, Hans Christian Anderson

Blindness, Jose Saramago

Native Son, Richard Wright

Sana Janjua
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Thankful for the following books

A Diary of a Nobody, George and Weedon Grossmith
It’s hilarious, a delightful and touching “light” read. I come back to it time and time again, probably because of its main character, Charles Pooter who is one of the great figures in English comic literature.

Dream of a a Red Chamber, Cao Xueqin
Reading this book was an experience. I almost felt like I was living the life of its characters, set in 19th century China. And the supernatural Buddhist/Daoist themes lend it a “timeless,” mysterious feel.

Deewan-i-Ghalib, Ghalib
I am still reading and learning Ghalib’s verses. His poetry is complex, challenging and captivating. His verses can be philosophical, melancholic and irreverant, telling us not only much about Ghalib’s life but of the twilight of the Mughal era.

Skeena, Fauzia Rafique
This was my first Punjabi novel (which I actually read in its English edition). It was a novel that not only made an old literature sound contemporary but one that did so poignantly without being sentimental. The scenes in the novel are etched in my memory and I enjoyed how it dealt with “political” themes like class, poverty and patriarchy, without ever once sounding political.

Randeep Purewall
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Thankful for every book read (to the end), but for some, more so.

Kafian, Madholal Hussain
Shah Hussain’s (Punjabi) poems emerged as songs in my childhood. Later, i realized, Kafian speaks to my totality in some way as it gives me a perspective to view and experience life. From then to now, if planning to travel for over a week, Kafian comes with me because it’s home.

Diwan-e-Ghalib, Assadullah Khan Ghalib
Mirza Ghalib’s collection of (Urdu) poems came upon me a little later than Kafian but in similar ways, and though a very different flavour, it also is a continuous source of pleasure and profundity.

Nausea, Jean-Paul Sartre
Though i love Sartre’s trilogy The Roads to Freedom, thanks must be given for Nausea that I read in early youth and there it made me understand why i was feeling nauseous all the time.

After, i found two incredible books that helped me to make sense of the world that was unfolding in the ’70s, notes on alienation in Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 by Karl Marx and The Second Sex by Simone de Bouvois. Much gratefulness for both.

Power, Linda Hogan
Thanks to Linda Hogan for all her novels, they allowed me to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ the lived lives of her characters. As well, because in Toronto in the ’90s, i was having this recurring image of an upside down tree with roots as branches, and it was disturbing me to the point where i began to mention it to friends including poet Connie Fife, who later brought me three novels by Linda Hogan. And unbelievable though it was, i found the exact scene of an upside down tree in one. There also was a reason for it: a storm, and there were people who were able to deal with it. I did not understand why i was having it, i still don’t, but the stress went away.

The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie
Special thanks to Salman Rushdie for The Satanic Verses (with Midnight’s Children and Shame since they come out from and flow into each other), the work that launched a strong and permanent literary assault on religious bigotry and its contexts of oppression; the telling of a story that showed us what literature can do. In its aftermath, the Author’s insistence on our right to freedom of expression, to discuss and to confront extremism, continues to strengthen the secular movement. The usage and expression is as revolutionary as the content. The Satanic Verses also is my most valued Banned Book.

The Beloved, Toni Morrison
Thanks to Toni Morrison for The Beloved, an unbelievable story of courage and endurance, of heroic survival and resistance, that claimed from me all the buried emotions of women’s system-sanctioned stoning-lynching-gangraping deaths, confinement and torture. I’m in awe of Toni Morrison for telling this story the way she has though i may not dare read it again.

Fauzia Rafique
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Inspired by
PEN American Centre‘s Facebook post ‘Giving Thanks for Books’
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‘Blues Loony’ a poem by Sana Janjua

Eight years ago, I ferried across the mossy
Greens of blues loony, dreaming of escape,
I wore dread red lipstick, tightened my
Appetite from much to most;

Of literature I knew something, so I wrote
Fabled blossom-hearted nothingness,
Mysterious with pain hidden from their eyes,
As they crawled under my skin, saying who are you?

A ghost walked by in Newton Park, western winds howling
In eastern agony, bricked with bonded labour,
The rapists hurried away, unsuccessfully, with my right ankle
Lost in the abyss of migratorial silence, who could I tell?

Everything was so fast back then, before I owned a radio,
And Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb didn’t come to check up on
My little body that wriggled under the weight of eyelids…

I summoned nerve-wrecked
Poetry to find itself in me, as syllables and rhymes
Tethered around in akathisiacal mooniness…
I slept on public benches- night after night thinking
Of you, as you lay your arms around someone else.

Listen, you, listen,
Remember I too could smile through pain,

When I didn’t know your caste,
Your language, your capitalist father’s burgundy furniture,
When I didn’t know you and me,
And you said you loved me.

Sana Janjua is an emerging poet and playwright. She is a founding member and President of Surrey Muse, an interdisciplinary art and literature group.

uddariblog@gmail.com
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Uddari-Weblog/333586816691660
@UddariWeblog
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Surrey Muse Reading/Presentation – Surrey BC Nov 25/11

Surrey Muse is having it’s first reading and presentation meeting this Friday. A new interdisciplinary group, it’s objectives include presenting creative work of artists, writers, poets, musicians, singers, dramatists, actors, photographers and painters from diverse cultural communities of Surrey; and, to bring in similar representation from other cities.

The first meeting of Surrey Muse features an out-of-town established Guest Author, a highly regarded Surrey-based poet, and a young local playwright representing three different locations, expressions and achievements. Discussion and Open Mic follows.

Support Surrey Muse with your presence, ideas and thoughts.
Contact: surrey.muse@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Surrey-Muse/
Web Page: http://surreymuse.wordpress.com/

Surrey Muse first meeting
5:30 – 7:30 PM
Room 418
City Centre branch
Surrey Public Library
Phone: (604) 598-7420
(Surrey Central skytrain)

Guest Author: Susan Crean
Featured Poet: Manolis
Featured Playwright: Sana Janjua
Host: Valerie B.-Taylor

Open Mic
Refreshments

Free event
Donations welcome

Download PDF Poster

Contact: surrey.muse@gmail.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Surrey-Muse/
Web Page: http://surreymuse.wordpress.com/

Next meeting: Friday, January 27, 2012

Poster designed by Mariam Zohra-Durrani
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Obama Celebrations and Balls

A seminar in Surrey January 31/09 on the Liberation Struggle of Palestine was slow to catch on but as it did, it jelled into a warm and vibrant hub of information on Palestinian liberation, Zionism, US imperialism, Israeli war crimes, and international Palestinian solidarity movements.

palestain-031-lge

Organized by Fraser Valley Peace Council, the seminar was presented by Hannah Kawas (Canada Palestine Association), Derrick O’Keefe (StopWar.ca), Sid Shnaid (Independent Jewish Voices), Chris Shelton (World Peace Forum Society), and Nazir Rizvi (Peace Activist).

palestain-043-lge

Sana Janjua’s spirited rendition of a selection of Mahmoud Darwish’s “Madeeh al-Thill al-‘Aaly”: ‘In Priase of the High Shadow’ (published at the end of this post) was utterly moving as was Shahzad Nazir Khan’s introduction to the event.

It was a heartfelt attempt by local peace activists to help re-gain the lost momentum of a powerful international Palestine solidarity movement. The time between the end of December 2008 and the beginning of January 2009 was marked both by the height of Israeli state violence against Palestinians in Gaza, and the resolve of the people around the world for peace and retribution. Peace-loving Jews and Israeli citizens were at the forefront of the movement, and it appeared as if the will of the people was about to yield some results.

Instead, it became silent after the weekend of the Eleventh. On January 15, a leading South Asian activist in UK roared in frustration: ‘I am pretty pissed off there is no national mobilsation this weekend, i think the momentum will suffer as a result.. I am also pissed off that StWC coalition have not called for the protests either at the israeli embassy, or for a national day of action in terms of disruption to shops and businesses etc that deal with israel.’

The news headings changed overnight to congratulatory messages from calling for an end to Israeli state violence in Gaza; the move to boycott Israeli goods/services and to picket Israeli consulates/embassies was halted; and, all necessary strings were pulled to achieve this dead end.

It is unfortunate that Obama inauguration had to serve as the global distraction to knock the wind out of the Palestine solidarity movement right when the action was mounting to force a peaceful resolution of some kind. Instead, the international politicians, media and corporations annihilated the gains of the movement by becoming engrossed in the newness of the new President of the United States.

It is a matter of great pride and inspiration for democracy-loving Black people of the United States of America, and for democracy-loving people of all colors everywhere in the World that the elections in the United States have delivered the White House to a Black Democrat family. The mirth of these inaugural balls is marred by the continued inaction on Gaza, and by US drone attacks on Pakistan where civilian death toll is rising each day.

Yesterday, hope was not with Obama but with the protesters at the picket outside US Consulate in Vancouver, and at the Candlelight Vigil at Robson Square. Today, hope still resides:

Here

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Here

And Here.

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Excerpts from ‘Madeeh Al-Thill Al-‘Aly’
In Priase of the High Shadow
By Mahmoud Darwish

It is for you to be, or not to be,
It is for you to create, or not to create.
All existential questions, behind your shadow, are a farce,
And the universe is your small notebook, and you are its creator.
So write in it the paradise of genesis,
Or do not write it,
You, you are the question.
What do you want?
As you march from a legend, to a legend?
A flag?
What good have flags ever done?
Have they ever protected a city from the shrapnel of a bomb?
What do you want?
A newspaper?
Would the papers ever hatch a bird, or weave a grain?
What do you want?
Police?
Do the police know where the small earth will get impregnated from the coming winds?
What do you want?
Sovereignty over ashes?
While you are the master of our soul; the master of our ever-changing existence?
So leave,
For the place is not yours, nor are the garbage thrones.
You are the freedom of creation,
You are the creator of the roads,
And you are the anti-thesis of this era.
And leave,
Poor, like a prayer,
Barefoot, like a river in the path of rocks,
And delayed, like a clove

You, you are the question.
So leave to yourself,
For you are larger than people’s countries,
Larger than the space of the guillotine.
So leave to yourself,
Resigned to the wisdom of your heart,
Shrugging off the big cities, and the drawn sky,
And building an earth under your hand’s palm — a tent, an idea, or a grain.
So head to Golgotha,
And climb with me,
To return to the homeless soul its beginning.
What do you want?
For you are the master of our soul,
The master of our ever-changing existence.
You are the master of the ember,
The master of the flame.
How large the revolution,
How narrow the journey,
How grand the idea,
How small the state!

Peace, Justice for Palestine!
BOYCOTT Chapters !ndigo
Cut the Ties with Israeli Apartheid
boycottapartheid@gmail.com

BC Liquor stores sell products created in illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Arab and Syrian land.
DON’T DRINK WITH APARTHEID – Boycott Israeli Wines
Canada Palestine Association, Vancouver

‘Apartheid: From South Africa to Israel’: Ronnie Kasrils (ANC)
Sunday, March 8/09, 7PM
Vancouver Public Library, Alice Mackay Room
Canada-Palestine Support Network

Fauzia Rafique
gandholi.wordpress.com
frafique@gmail.com

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