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Learning Arabic: A Lesson in the Humility of Art.

Learning Arabic: A Lesson in the Humility of Art

   My father instilled in his children a pride
   in our heritage; we are as closely' linked
   to our past as we are to one another. He also
   inculcated in us a deep appreciation of education
   and a love of art.
      --Sakip Sabanci
          on Ottoman calligraphy

   After a year of clearing phlegm from my brain,

   hacking out gh's and kh's, calm K's and deep growling ones,
   hiccupping glottal stops;

   After months of writing dots that do their will, not mine,
   marks making differences in meaning;

   After keeping some letters apart

   and connecting others in historical alliances
   which live close to one another:

   I'm as proficient in Arabic as a cat with a doorknob.

   It's a lesson in humility, this calligraphy of understanding,
   it takes mind-time as I follow the beautiful curved bowbends

   of an artist who has traded scimitars for reeds.
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Author:Curry, Elizabeth R.
Publication:the new renaissance
Article Type:Poem
Date:Mar 22, 2008
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