Vol.8, No.1 | [Article] Contesting the Arab Regimes in the War Poetry of Nizar Qabbani



Within defined political and aesthetic contexts, the Arab war literature on the Arab-Israeli conflict—particularly the 1967 war poetry—was an attempt to
re-describe and reconstitute projections of the war in Arab media and popular culture. Repudiating war and its diabolical motives, several Arab poets questioned and
subverted a complex pattern of nationalist myths that gave rise to the 1967 war between Israel and three Arab armies. Incorporating intertextuality and other
Western discursive dynamics, this essay explores the provocative war poetry that the great Syrian poet Nizar Qabbani (1923–1998) wrote in the aftermath of the six-day
1967 war to interrogate the distorted war narratives purveyed by Arab politicians and state media and reveal their destructive impact on collective Arab memory. In this
context, Qabbani integrates a complex pattern of traditions appropriated from ancient Islamic history to engage the 1967 war. In his repudiation of official attempts to
obscure the origins of the war and bury its atrocities beneath a cultural amnesia, Qabbani negotiates narratives of trauma and pain, demystifying a phenomenon that
centuries of history have glorified. His poems investigated here aim to engage the politics and the language of war, questioning the myths and the monolithic political
discourse that triggered the 1967 war and paved the way for the defeat.

Keywords: war, defeat, politics, amnesia discourse, trauma