There Will Be Singing

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2020072620200801 (R4)In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing
About the dark times.
– Bertolt Brecht, Motto to the Svendborg Poems

The German poet and playwright wrote these lines while living in exile in Denmark in the last years of the 1930s. When faced with traumatic times, how do we find the strength to sing? What does the poet write, against the backdrop of war, unrest, injustice, a global pandemic? The Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck writes a new poem in response to Brecht and speaks to three poets whose work recognizes the cruelty of the world and simultaneously tries to praise it: Naomi Shihab Nye, Ross Gay and Tishani Doshi.

Dear Brecht,
Is it Brecht? With a خ?
I’m tired of singing. My country breaks
me. I wanted to consider the walnut tree, but yesterday
my hometown burnt. A young man dead. Then undead.
I will not use the word blooms with blood.
His white shirt—not a field.
- Zeina Hashem Beck

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet whose most recent collection is Louder than Hearts (Bauhan Publishing, 2017). Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry, The New York Times, The Adroit Journal, The Academy of American Poets, Poetry London, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Dubai.

Producer: Mair Bosworth

The Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck explores poetry that sings in dark times.

In the dark times
Will there also be singing?
Yes, there will be singing
About the dark times.
– Bertolt Brecht, Motto to the Svendborg Poems

The German poet and playwright wrote these lines while living in exile in Denmark in the last years of the 1930s. When faced with traumatic times, how do we find the strength to sing? What does the poet write, against the backdrop of war, unrest, injustice, a global pandemic? The Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck writes a new poem in response to Brecht and speaks to three poets whose work recognizes the cruelty of the world and simultaneously tries to praise it: Naomi Shihab Nye, Ross Gay and Tishani Doshi.

Dear Brecht,
Is it Brecht? With a خ?
I’m tired of singing. My country breaks
me. I wanted to consider the walnut tree, but yesterday
my hometown burnt. A young man dead. Then undead.
I will not use the word blooms with blood.
His white shirt—not a field.
- Zeina Hashem Beck

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet whose most recent collection is Louder than Hearts (Bauhan Publishing, 2017). Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry, The New York Times, The Adroit Journal, The Academy of American Poets, Poetry London, World Literature Today, and elsewhere. She currently lives in Dubai.

Producer: Mair Bosworth

The Lebanese poet Zeina Hashem Beck explores poetry that sings in dark times.