Al-Mutanabbi used to get really upset when his wife narrated dull stories, like stories about ants and bugs, to their son. These stories were inherited from the past and she used to justify their narration by saying they will always be an inheritance.
However, Al-Mutanabbi insisted that she must use her imagination to change these stories and he always told her that life will only develop through people who take something and turn it into something else – people who turn nectar into honey, words into poetry and sound into a tune.
His name was actually Ahmad and there are thousands of men named Ahmad but he was the only man named Abu at-Tayyib Al-Mutanabbi because he was ambitious and a maker who achieved change.
What’s the ultimate dream for us? Is it the same dream as an ant’s? Is it the same as the ant’s desire to get food to its colony without being stepped on? People usually narrate what they see so they would say that ants work hard.
However, in the eyes of creative men, ants have no ambitions and no dreams other than making it to their colonies without being stepped on. Who can distinguish an ant from another in a group? No one as all ants are the same as they lack defiance and madness.
In order for us not to be deluded into thinking we are all authors, we must note that a real author is the one who turns language into imagery – whether in a poem or a novelReem Al Kamali
The case of novels
This is also the case in the world of novels. Novels have become a subject of interest to all people despite their young age compared with poetry, which seems immortal. It’s interesting how all of us – regardless of who we are and where we grew up – wanted to hear stories when we were children. A story is an imagined narrative.
Al-Mutanabbi was right to ask his wife to alter the story as she narrated it. We must change the usual in order to confront our life that cannot be perfect and cannot stay as it is. Mother Nature is either angry or calm. It is therefore contradictory. The same applies to man who seems sane and mad. So how will narration become perfect?
In his book The Craft of the Novel, English philosopher Colin Wilson said a novel is based on imagination, vitality and significance so the reader does not expect what he had expected and starts to ask questions in order to further study an idea and look for it as the goal of the novel is very noble.
There is a partnership between the art of poetry and the art of novel. I personally think this is the most beautiful link between them. In order for us not to be deluded into thinking we are all authors, we must note that a real author is the one who turns language into imagery – whether in a poem or a novel.
This is how you create an exquisite imagery and free prose. It is creativity which even modern lenses cannot record.
This article is also available in Arabic.
Reem Al-Kamali is an Emirati author and journalist based in the UAE who specializes in history and literature. Her twitter handle is @reemalkamali.