Serina Closed Gate
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Sayed Gouda's Latest Book

SerinaSerina is a novel that meticulously illustrates the mental trauma of the protagonist in Hong Kong. In parallel with this political and cultural background, the novel questions the usefulness of medication in treating cases of madness. It offers an alternative method that proved more successful in treating many cases of madness.

Poem of the Month:

Joseph's Sadness

 

Whenever life seduces me,

and comes to me with a smiling face,

and sways playfully, and displays her beauty,

and fastens the door and says:

'I'm ready!',

 

whenever life seduces me,

and tears off my shirt of tranquility,

and makes her move and my heart makes his,

and he forgets his sadness for an hour by doing that and this,

 

whenever life seduces me so that I may forget,

memories wake and sadness says:

'No more are you fit for someone like me,

and no more is someone like me fit for you!'

1 August 2019

Translated from the Arabic by the author

The Echo of Words (Translated from the Arabic by the author)

Their words are like the sea,

abundant is its water,

but it does not quench the thirst.

 

I collected all the woods

that do not catch fire,

and threw them behind my back.

I looked back at them;

they seemed small and far.

I looked ahead;

the road was long..

and empty!

 

I lit candles for the blind,

and sprinkled grains

for the birds that perched

on my land.

They flew

without singing to the spring.

 

Nothing equals a poet's solitude in the night.

O night! Your darkness is purer

than the darkness of their hearts;

your silence is nobler than the silence

of their schemes and their plots.

 

In the crowd, I see the fragility of words,

the falsehood of pretence,

and the darkness of bad intentions.

 

What do I need all these lights for

when a poem is being written in the heart?

 

From afar, I see a swamp in whose darkness

swim those who think themselves swimmers.

I walk to the sea;

I step on its water,

moving away,

smiling,

tranquil.

 

From afar, I tilted my head up

to see them.

When I got closer,

I tilted my head down

to see them.

 

Critics' comments about Sayed Gouda:

Stuart Christie (Professor of Literature): In the end, Sayed Gouda's In the Quite of the Night is worthier than we are. His poetry has earned it, and it is only when one's poetry is rated so highly that the pestering critic says, as I do now, that I would like to learn Arabic to understand Gouda's heart and soul better. His poetry is among the best I have read in any year.

On In the Quiet of the Night

 

Birgit Bunzel (Professor of Literature): With Serina, Gouda has not only proven his ability to write with clarity about developments in various cultural and political backgrounds. He has done so while also giving readers knowledgeable insights into the mental trauma of an unreliable schizophrenic narrator. The result is a novel that intertwines personal and national suffering and calls for personal and national responsibility.

On Serina

 

Bin-Isa bu-Hmalah (Professor of Arabic Literature): [‘. . . we can sketch the poetic identity that floats in the book and represents the poet himself. That poetic identity that has the same characteristics of migration, supremacy, and prophethood in an immoral, miserable, and unpoetic world that represents the ugly face of the world . . . [the poet’s] overwhelming sense of prophethood, together with the image of a crucified prophet, is similar to the image of Jesus in its universal imagination. This is what the poet proclaims in the headline that prefaces his collection: (O my heart, crucified on the pole of dream, / you look at them from above, in renunciation / they see you crucified, / void of will / but you see them an emptiness, / a mere illusion)’.]

On Between a Broken Dream and Hope

 

Salah Elewa (Poet and critic): Serina is the third work of fiction by Sayed Gouda, after his debut novel Once Upon A Time In Cairo and his second novel Closed Gate. And in this work as well Gouda proved to be a cosmopolitan author who tries in this unique fashion to reconcile a number of divergent elements, topics and ideas. He manages to find subtle underlying and unifying themes, tones and commonalities in places that seem to have nothing in common. The work’s power also lies in the manipulation of conflicts in the real world while using them as a backdrop or a metaphor for the conflicts and tensions battling within the main character… Serina is a cry against oppression, a clear condemnation of violence, an appeal not to accept injustice, and that acts of repression shouldn’t be passed over in silence.

On Serina

 

Yeeshan Yang (Writer): The writing in Serina is successful with two major external conflicts - the coup taking place in Egypt and the yellow umbrella movement happening in Hong Kong, complicated and reflected by Serina’s internal conflict. Usually novel writing requires a plot or many plots, the mental health is the only plot applied in Serina although it seems like a real issue that the author is dealing with. With her honest realism Serina is an interesting book worth recommending, particularly for intellectuals who want to appreciate unpretentious realism.

On Serina

 

Bill Purves (Writer): Those who enjoy poetry with rhythm and rhyme—mouldy old figs who enjoy Kipling and Robert W. Service—are these days often reduced to song lyrics and the couplets of rappers and unlikely to find anything there to their taste. How refreshing then to learn that Sayed Gouda has chosen to republish some of his Arabic poetry in English.

On On the Carriage of Memory

 

Jorge Palma (Poet): Sayed Gouda, el poeta, no negocia, presenta su mundo particular, su paraíso perdido, y con la verdad (la suya, intransferible) se revela. Desde su propia montaña, se declara abiertamente en contra de la Injusticia, el desorden, en una realidad dislocada; poesía en verdadero contrapunto con un mundo vacío de contenido, donde el poeta queda solo, anunciando sus verdades frente a la incomprensión de un mundo distraído, mayoritariamente carente de sensibilidad.

 

[Sayed Gouda, the poet, does not negotiate. He presents his own world, his paradise lost, and with the truth – his own, non-transferable – he reveals himself. From his own mountain, he speaks out openly against injustice and disruption in a disjointed reality; poetry in stark contrast with a world devoid of substance, where the poet is left alone, announcing his truths in the face of the incomprehension of an inattentive world largely devoid of sensitivity.]

On 'On the Cross of Spartacus'

 

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