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Safeta ObhodjasSafeta Obhodjas

Safeta Obhodjas, Author in German and Bosnian, Sargon Boulus, Poet in Arabic and English

Veröffentlicht am 01.03.2021

Article: Safeta Obhodjas and Sargon Boulus. Legenden und Staub:

Auf den christlichislamischen Pfaden des Herzens.   (Book review)

Journal of Ecumenical Studies

Vol. 44, No. 3 (Summer, 2009)

 Book Review

 Dr Prof. Allen Podet

State University College, Buffalo, NY


Article from:  Journal of Ecumenical Studies Article date: June 22, 2009 Author: Podet, Allen COPYRIGHT 2009 Journal of Ecumenical Studies.

This material is published under license from the publisher through the Gale Group,

Farmington Hills, Michigan.  All inquiries regarding rights should be directed to the Gale Group.

In this book, Obhodjas has collaborated with Boulus to produce a literary arabesque, a dance in which first one, then the other, addresses themes including mentorship, books, the Gilgamesh epic, education of the young, and confrontation with the police.

Boulus, born in Iraq in 1944, died in Berlin 2007, he was a Christian Arab descendent of the threatened Christian Assyrian sect, a community that retains its own Semitic language. He eventually moved to Beirut, Lebanon, which offered a more secure Christian community. He was the poet who broke the classical forms and created an Arabic poetry, altogether fresh and exciting, that gained him an international following, especially among the New York arts community and later the San Francisco cognoscenti, among whom he lived forty years. He become a pillar of the “Beat” generation and was prominent in the usual political protests. He introduced Arab readers to Allen Ginzberg, Ezra Pound, Sylvia Plath, and the older English poetic tradition. His works in this book center on the confrontation of Christen and Muslim and how the two enrich one another. He remains best known, however, for his revolution of Arabic poetry, where his influence is profound and extensive.

Obhodjas, is a Muslim prose writer from Bosnia. Born 1951 in Pale, a small town near Sarajevo, she grew up in Bosnia, took her degree in journalism from Sarajevo University, and began writing radio plays and articles, often about the fate and difficulties of women. Obhodjas’s Bosnia has been in turmoil for the last half-century, with religious, ethnic, and cultural diversity leading to a fermenting and fascinating society at best, and perpetual strife to the point of murder at worst. Since she was forced into exile in 1992 by the “ethnic cleansing,” she has been resident principally in Wuppertal, Germany, und has published largely in German, sometimes in Bosnian. Her approach in this book and in general is that of phenomenology, observing her characters closely and analyzing their lives and actions with a sympathetic eye. Her characteristic humor is compassionate, not unkind.

 What emerges in this work is a cross-cultural love letter, with profound insight from the one tradition on the other. The book is fascinating for its contrasts and represents an extraordinarily successful intellectual collaboration.


Sargon Boulus died a long time ago. But I keep him and his stories in my memories. I want to give his poem Who knows the story to the readers of my blog. Please click to open it.


 Who knows the Story

A poem by Sargon Boulus


The century is almost over;

How did it start, when will it end,

against whom is this battle being


 Since it began: From the first chapter

Before speech.

Those who stayed behind,

read the writing on the wall.

 He who migrated, never found the

promised land.

Speak, what will you say?

Or don't speak, and just listen.

Listen to any voice that may reach


 Toss your old key into the ocean

as long as: no lock, neither a door,

       nor a house.

Visit our forsaken land sometimes.

The magic ring you covet, is to be

       found there.

 The woman you sought after, to no


for so long, awaits you there, now.

 Open your hands. Auction off your

heart. And

hear the story.

 The day is coming; countless are the


The people ask for bread. The tyrant

sees a dream

that defies interpretation.

The peddler of fatwas, purple-clothed

with the blood of sacrifice,

rips through the luxurious fabric of

       your dreams

with a dagger of righteousness

beating his little tabla all through the


between your ears – his ultimate joy:

that your never sleep.

The deadlier your migraines, the

       higher he soars.

It is a world clouded with mysteries.

Mysteries are embedded in words, but

what they tell is only one part of the


 The audience believed it.

The judge was suspicious of the details.

The scientist thoght it was a dance:

between the particles and monkeys and


Between the seed, the ant, and Mars

and the galaxies whose giant arms

       embrance a cloud of dust.

 Don't seak; what will you say.

Or speak, and listen

       to whoever comes along.

 The Chinese poet

       dead more than a thousend

years ago, whispers in my ear;

       ›From this high tower,

       I am startled to see

       how ferocious is the storm.

       The walled city looks empty

       when the leaves fall‹.

                   Li Dong

 Maybe it's the wind, Master Li Dong,

reciting the story of the flood once more.

 My tribe knows it well.

It knows its master and narrator.

It knows its heroes, those windmill


Don Quixote fought valiantly

once upon a time: today

the coughing of a sick child

without medicine behind the walls

of siege, is enough to make it fall.

 My tribe. This page. This pen. This


It is the sap, Master. The sap rising

in the trunk of life and the tree.

No. It is the sea of silence, and this

tiny boat has a story.

 My friend who died yesterday in exile

battling his final pain,

know the story from beginning to end

in a single moment of yearning.

 Let the current take what it wants.

Let me remain in my place.

Give me this single moment, and let

       me be:

I want to hear the story.


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