EGYPT: Poet sees a storm coming

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Iman Bakry has a fortuneteller’s voice, husky and cracked. It coaxes you into her colloquial poems, which once were about romance but have since shifted to a cutting critique of President Hosni Mubarak’s government and an Egypt plagued by self-doubt, repression, corruption and a dangerous divide between rich and poor.

‘I see a storm coming,’ begins a stanza in one of her poems.

Bakry is a media-savvy wordsmith who has risen to national prominence through television appearances and public readings. Her politically barbed verse articulates the frustrations and false dreams that have embittered a cynical public and laced the air with hints of rebellion. Opposition forces are often silenced and intimidated by the authoritarian government, but Bakry senses the anger welling.


‘The explosion is already happening,’ she said in an interview in her Cairo apartment. ‘There’s demonstrations, political activism, labor strikes, protests over clean water and bread shortages. All this signals the collapse of the whole society. We are walking to hell, toward a very dark future.’
Read the rest of the story in today Los Angeles Times.
--Jeffrey Fleishman in Cairo