Maybe one of my Egyptian relatives will know about this poet. I enjoyed what Abdalla F. Hassan had to say about him in the NY Times, but I wish there had been examples of his poems to share with you. (Sorry, Poets!)
“Along a narrow, leafy road just past a small domed mosque is an electric pole with a handwritten sign showing the path to the country home of the poet Abdel-rahman Elabnoudy. The sign reads Aya and Nour, the names of his daughters.
“Sequestered from the big city, Mr. Elabnoudy, a songwriter, dramatist, social critic and man of verse, lives in a whitewashed home on small plot of land planted with mangoes and date palms in a village in Ismailia Province, along the Suez Canal. A couple of decades ago, he tilled and sowed the earth, and designed a home modeled on the traditional architecture of Abnoud, the Upper Egyptian village of his birth.
“ ‘I am from a village where everyone sings, except the shop owners, who reap the output of the singing at the end of the day,’ said Mr. Elabnoudy, 74, one of the Arab world’s best-known vernacular poets. ‘People work and sing, and with their earnings they would buy simple things like cigarettes and tea.’
“Books and awards line the shelves of his sunny study and reception room. On one wall, below a black-and-white portrait of his father, Mahmoud Elabnoudy, is a photograph of a beaming Abdel-rahman embraced by his mother, Fatma Qandil.
“ ‘It was an exaggerated love,’ he said of his mother. ‘She is present a lot in my poetry, but my father isn’t. She is my true educator.’ …
“Mr. Elabnoudy wrote the songs and the dialogue for the landmark 1969 film ‘Touch of Fear,’ which tells the story of a tyrannical village chief and his demise. The film narrowly passed the censorship authorities and was screened only after Mr. Nasser had seen it and given his approval. …
“Its theme — a mass uprising against tyranny ignited by a senseless death — was what unfolded four decades later to topple a system of authoritarianism established by the military coup-turned-revolution of Nasser and the Free Officers in 1952. Mr. Elabnoudy’s only poem in homage to a leader was written to Nasser 40 years after his death in 1970 and weeks before the 2011 revolution, praising his incorruptibility.
“Mr. Elabnoudy’s ascendancy has endured through six decades. His poem ‘The Square’ … captured the dreams and hopes of a nation during the height of the 18-day revolution. ‘A ruler should never think he understands Egypt,’ he said.”
Photograph of vernacular poet Abdel-rahman Elabnoudy is by Abdalla Hassan