Week 4: Poetry and Ahmed Negm in the Revolution

This week I chose to focus on the role of graffiti and poetry (and, specifically Ahmed Negm’s poetry) in the January 25th revolution. The first artifact was an article titled “The Writing on the Wall: Graffiti, Poetry, and Protest in Egypt,” by Andy Young begins by painting the image of some of the martyrs such as: Khaled Said and Shenouda Atteya that have been placed all over the walls by graffiti artists around the city of Cairo. On these walls, are also some lines taken from poems such as: “When people demand freedom/ Destiny must surely respond.” Young discusses how influential poetry has been on the revolution and how the people use poetry to maintain their sense of identity as well as finally being given a voice to what they feel. Young talks about a variety of poets and how the lines have become chants to sing in the streets. The second artifact was the poem “Who Are They and Who Are We?” by Ahmed Negm, who was one of the many poets the Andy Young had written about. This poem was chanted in the streets in the 2011 uprisings and gives a strong voice to the poor people. By juxtaposing the working class, the people who have to fight to survive to the ruling class, the people who have never had to work for anything, it uplifts the poor and makes them out to be the true victors. I chose these artifacts, because the first one shows a cosmopolitan view of society, which is that networking and social factors are the dominant way of working in the political system; and the second one because I felt like it linked up with our discussions this week about an economically just system and how great the divide between the classes can be. I felt like the poem adequately covered and showed how the people of the lower class felt and how they saw their ruling class.

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