The Man… The Poet
The poet Yousef Al Shatti
Land Lover and Homeland Poet
Yousef Al Shati, a Kuwaiti poet who sums up the country with his revolting words and translates his passion towards his homeland through letters beating love and pride. Many people consider him the homeland poet of the current generation and a lot of Kuwaiti and Gulf artists sang his lyrics such as Nabil Shuail, Abdullah Al-Ruwaished, Khalid Al-Sheikh, Bashar Al-Shatti, Abdul Aziz Al Duwaihi and others.
His love for the homeland is not limited to Kuwait alone, but extends to other Gulf countries, whereas he presented patriotic poems to the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar and others.
He achieved many projects the most recent of which was the song “Amal Deira” addressed to His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and he’s working on a new national song on the occasion of the Kuwaiti National Day, as well as love songs.
Tell us about your beginnings with poetry? What is the story or incident that introduced you to this field?
I started writing poetry in 1990 then I began learning, reading, and increasing my poetic and linguistic culture, developing myself and correcting my mistakes. I didn’t have recourse to Arabic academic courses, I write poetry since I’m 15 years old, but I read enough to reinforce my talent and pass over the beginnings to become a poet.
Who are the poets who influenced and refined the talent of Yousef Al Shatti?
I wasn’t influenced by any poet. I read everything without exception and my ambition is to become one day a poetry school and this is my obsession, so I was not affected by a specific person or poet, but look at the poem regardless of who wrote it, focus on its content more than the name, pick from everything the best and form a whole new thought that represents me, to reach the fact that once you read a poem you will know that it is for Yousef Al Shatti.
Who was your first inspiration? And what pushes you to write?
Life involves pain and joy, but from my point of view it is the pain that motivates the human to write. The painful things provoke me more than the pleasing things, because poetry, in my belief, was created for sadness and suffering more than for joy. Therefore the sad reasons call me to write a poem more than others, like pain, separation, betrayal, fatigue, problems and other causes.
What is poetry for you?
Poetry began as a hobby and became today a vocation which is an important part of my life and I treat it with professionalism as if it were a job. Today, as an active poet, I am part of a society and I am required to be present in all national and social events.
Can we consider that the era of poetry and poets is gone with all the developments and technological progresses we’re witnessing, or shall we consider them channels for spreading this art?
Poets exist over time but their means of communication with people change. In the past, there was what we call souk Okaz, but today there is instagram and at one time there were poetry nights and poetry magazines. Today, social communication networks have developed the communication between the poet and the recipient, and this is a very positive way to deliver a certain message, improve public taste and educate the public and raise it, and it took control over poetry magazines.
It is clear to us after reading your poems that you mix between Al-Faseeh and Al-‘Aami. Tell us about that experience or the poetic plot.
I would like to point out that I was the first poet to combine between the Al-Fasih and Al-‘Aami or Nabati with the same rhyme in a vertical poem based on my knowledge of the history of Nabataean poetry.
What is the obstacle that Arab poets face? Do our Arab societies attach importance to this authentic art?
In general, our interest in culture is limited and we cannot compare ourselves to others in terms of reading and being informed. Statics show that the average of reading in the Arab world does not exceed a quarter page per one individual over one year, and according to the UNESCO report, every 80 Arabs read one book per year, while the European citizen reads 35 books a year. This means that the rates of culture are very low, and this is reflected in our interest in literature but we always strive to raise the public and provide literature and be the inspiration to those who follow us as poets, writers and intellectuals.
Quote:”When I talk about any of the GCC countries، I feel like I am talking about home. Moreover, when my songs are being spread between people, I feel overwhelmed. I love the Gulf as much as I love Kuwait, as If I am writing to my country”
You recently became very famous and your name started to appear in some of the greatest patriotic songs,
tell us about this experience in general?
For patriotic songs, I think that when a person writes to his homeland he must write as a warrior. I am a military man and a former officer. I have learned to stand as a warrior when I talk about my country, so I have paid great attention to national poetry not only today but long ago. In recent years, we started translating these poems into patriotic songs and thank god we succeeded and most of the Gulf countries began asking me to write national works for them. I wrote a poem for the United Arab Emirates on their Flag Day. It was performed by Nabil Shuail and composed by Bashar Al Shatti. I wrote a song for Bahrain as well entitled “Bahrain Shams al-Nahar” and it has been very successful and this really pleased me. There is a national work for Qatar and many correspondences related to writing other works for other countries. Unfortunately, some poets and composers deal with the national work as a temporary work and this is wrong because the patriotic work must be immortal, so I must be sincere and precise when doing it and carefully select the words and meanings.
Many great artists sang your words including Bashar Al-Shatti, tell us about these fruitful collaborations, and is working with Bashar easier or harder than working with others?
I worked with the artist Nabil Shuail who I greet in this occasion and with the giant Khalid Al Sheikh, an artist living in a circle of his own and cannot be compared to anyone. He has a musical philosophy that is not present in others in the Gulf and is an experience himself or a special case: he is a human before being an artist; he’s very creative in front and behind the camera. I have a funny story to tell you about him: I once gave him a poem called “kazzab Ma Taaraf Teheb” and asked him to compose a music for it, he told me that he cannot compose it because he cannot say you are a liar to anyone in fact, so how will he say it through a poem, and this shows how much he is transparent and has ethics and morals. Khalid is a good friend of mine and I have a very good relationship with him, we worked together twice, he composed a song entitled “Mou Haram” for Bashar and another one in Egyptian dialect “Akzeb Alek”. I hope to see him working again. I worked as well with the artist Abdullah Al-Ruwaished for the funeral of the late artist, Abdul Hussein Abdul-Rida.
As for Bashar, he is my brother and my experience with him is different. We are in constant touch and he’s the first one to take a look at my poems before anyone else. Dealing with him is comfortable and flexible since he’s my brother and we discuss everything and exchange views. Being a poet who does not seek to sit in the studios, my artistic engagements are limited, and this is normal and I may be guilty or not but in any case, I am here and if someone likes one of my poems and wants to sing it, he’s welcome and I will be very honored.
Quote:” After the big success that I have achieved in the patriot songs، I’m obsessed to be in every moment of writing for Kuwait”.
A patriotic song that you like and repeat always?
We are suffering from 30 years from the lack of patriotic songs that cover our ambitions and this is a calamity, and there is no national work that people constantly repeat, because if the work is not sincere and honest, it does not live. The national work should be based on words, melody, performance, distribution, photography and when one element is absent, the work fails.
Who is the singer who you would like to see singing your words?
Anyone who performs my words with emotions and sensitivity pleases me and reaches my heart even if he’s someone I meet in the street. The poem “Al Ghachamcham” is one of the greatest and most beautiful poems I wrote. It was performed by the artist Shahd Al Umeiri who is 13 years old and I am really happy to work with her especially that I feel that I am participating in building up the patriotic spirit in the generations that come after us.
Will we hear love songs for you in the near future? Who will be the singers?
Yes very soon, I cannot give you names because dealing with artists may change and the works are also subject to change.
What are you preparing for the national holidays of 2018?
In cooperation with the artist Bashar Al-Shatti, I recently presented a national song for His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah. It is entitled “Amal Deira” and it was performed by Bashar, and on the National Day I will launch a new work.
A poem to another poet that you have in mind and never forget?
I retain lots of poems and I am a good reader but there is a poem for the Imam Ali entitled “Affection and brotherhood have changed”…. It is one of the poems close to my heart as it translates the reality we live in, especially its conclusion: Ethics and morals are a blessing since we have started losing humanity and ethics.
A state or country that constantly inspires you and you often visit?
I traveled a lot but I love Turkey since I adore places with heritage, history, depth, culture and I feel really comfortable there.
Your first philosophy in life?
To be reconciled and tolerant with myself and others. My principle in life is to earn more than to lose and I do not like to hate because hate is a bad habit, so I fill my heart with love, even if someone hurt me, I move away from him and deal with all people with one rule that is the rule of humanity. In every country I visited, I have more than one friend.
A dream you want to achieve?
I dream that my poems remain immortal and enter every house and inhabit every heart because every word I wrote was a reality I lived on the human, social, or emotional level. I also wish the best for my parents and children and to see them in the highest positions.
A last word?
Thank you for choosing me, I am very glad to meet you, you are a great magazine and I am happy to be with you in this issue, especially after a long period of being away from the press, I feel good to return through “Al Ostoura”.
Quote:”Big part of my poems is for women، she is a major part of a man’s life، and half of the entire life”.