Saudi Arabian poet Hissa Hilal recently took part in a poetry competition for an Abu Dhabi TV show called “Million’s Poet“. The name comes from the fact that the top poet receives a one million dollar prize. I could go into a five paragraph post on that alone, and perhaps I will eventually, but the most remarkable part of this story is that she performed at all.
Hissa received death threats as the result of her appearances on the show and for the words she spoke. She didn’t just speak poems of love and nature, but she chose the opportunity to speak about issues of women’s equality in a region where the phrase is scoffed at and demeaned. Her courage in this competition earned her and the women of the region more than that one million dollars could have ever purchased.
Every time we speak out what we as poets believe, we speak for those who have the same thoughts and words, but don’t have the means to share them. We have our open mics, blogs, podcasts, books, and magazines to speak truth as we know it. We have the opportunity to reach more people than some will ever reach in their entire lives.
Embrace that, poet.
Here’s a video from ABC Nightly News where Hissa Hilal is featured as the Person of the Week. I hope it inspires you.
Here’s an article from ABC as well, in case the video is regionalized by ABC: Person of the Week: Poet Hissa Hilal