If there’s one thing that the world has taught me, it’s that poets are dangerous people who need to be locked up for the safety of others. At least that’s how they feel in Bahrain, where a 20-year old student was arrested and repeatedly beaten about the head with a baton. Her crime: reciting poetry that criticized the monarchy at a pro-democracy protest. “I was just expressing what the people want,” said Ayat al-Gormezi, the dangerous poet in question. “I have written poetry since I was a child, but not about politics. I did not think it was dangerous at the time.”
It gets worse:
Subjected to nine days of torture after her detention, Ms. Gormezi described how she was beaten across the face with electric cables, kept in a tiny, freezing cell and forced to clean lavatories with her bare hands. All the while, she was beaten on the head and the body until she lost consciousness.
The “interrogations” were apparently intended to ascertain who paid Ms. Gormezi to write her poetry. I have complicated feelings about this. Do people honestly think that poets are simply vessels for external ideas who cannot think and speak for themselves? Is it better to be arrested for suspected conspiracy than for the act of writing? Does a fear of poetry finally prove the importance of the genre? I have the luxury of considering these questions because I live in a country where I don’t have to fear imprisonment for performing a poem. I hope I never live to see censorship enacted with a stick. Happy writing.
Read the full story in The Independent.