The Ekphrastic Review

The Ekphrastic Review in Conversation with Saad Ali |
Owl Of Pines : Sunyata


Lorette: Were you always interested in art history?

Saad: Since my early teenage days, I have been interested in the subjects/disciplines of anthropology and history, yes-i.e. symbolism, language, culture, architecture, literature, and poetry-which, subsequently, led me to the rich terrain named art.

I remember, I had become particularly interested in the Western/European modern art on having visited The British Museum and The National Gallery in 2002 C.E. in London, UK. By then, I had been already living in the UK for two odd years. Since then, I have been particularly inspired by the Surrealism Movement after becoming introduced to Salvador Dali. Well, not in person, but rather through his paintings and artworks, of course. Well, it would have been such a pleasure and honour meeting him in person, though. Alas!

Surrealism, in particular, appealed to my artistic and intellectual side, and continues to, due to the movement's/artists' fascination with the human mind and its sub-classifications (id, ego, and superego). Here, I shall spare us a/ny lengthy/short discourse on the influences of the philosophies/ideas of the likes of Nietzsche, Freud, and Jung on the Thought and Momentum of the respective movement.

And I wish, I could paint, too, or draw/sketch, at least. I think, I have also made a reference to my initial days of getting introduced to art in one of my rather long poems titled "Self-Portrait," which is inspired by your artwork titled The Best is Yet to Come (2019). The other genres of art that I am thoroughly intrigued by include: abstract art, expressionism, symbolism, and dadaism. I think, my interest and engagement with the (visual) art is also psychological, to be honest. I mean, it's because of this very matter-of-fact that I cannot paint, draw, or sketch that the desire to be(come) a painter remains repressed in the unconscious; and it's only through my conscious engagement with the art and artists that a part of the said desire is ever satisfied. So, here's an instance of the self-psychoanalysis, for you, as well.

In the recent years, I have also become interested in the contemporary street art, you know. But I haven't had a chance to explore it properly-neither nationally nor internationally-as yet. To my mind, it's one of the most organic forms of the human expression, Street Art is. I mean, a modern cave-wo/man with modern tools; drawing, sketching, and paintings in the modern concrete-jungles: on the modern concrete-walls and in the modern concrete-streets, you know. How fantastic, how very fantastical! Banksy, Bambi, Lady AIKO and the likes come to the mind, for now, when I think of this particular kind of art.

And then, there is this mixed media art genre that you practice and preach. And I have to confess that I wasn't at all familiar with this genre of art, you know, until I had discovered The Ekphrastic Review. In fact, even on finding TER, I wasn't aware that TER Project was being run by an artist-the cherry on the top: a poetess. And what a fantastic news it was!


Lorette: Tell us about one or two favourite poems in this book. Share how they came together and why they are meaningful to you.

Saad: I think, "A Poem Without Punctuation," and "Snow Leopard and Ibex," will have to be the two of my favourite poems in this compendium.

Both prose poems are instances of: 1) an homage, and 2) a confession. Homage to the literary art, in general; to the said art form, more specifically. It's a confession in that the respective instances are representative of the poet's (my) utter helplessness before the sheer authority of the literary art, poetry; where, I am literally rendered a slave-not a wage-slave in the capitalist sense of the noun, but rather a tragical/classical Roman-Slave, who is without any freedom/s, even deprived of the sense and/or notion(s) of freedom-since the poetry and poems literally dictate at (free) will, like a Caesar: the anatomy and the nomenclature of the poetic-manifestation i.e. the exordium/the interlude/the epilogue; the selection and the arrangement of letters and words; the shape, the length-I mean, everything!

In the "A Poem Without Punctuation," I am more like a rebel, Camus' rebel: I've revolted; I've initiated an insurgency against the hegemony of the enterprise of language, alphabet, art, and form; where, I refuse to obey the rules of the game; where, I desire to construct my own meta-Order-like a Spartacus, whose real-name is not known to anyone, who is ever-ready to embrace death in the spirit of metamorphosis (change). (But hold on a second here! My real-name is known. Oh, crisis!)

In the "Snow Leopard and Ibex," I am more like a philosopher, an anthropologist, a historian, a naturalist, a humanist, and an evolutionist; whereby, I am acknowledging both natural and human-made conditions and processes that are indispensable to the existence of all i.e. nature, human, and beast in unison; whereby, I am an advocate of the philosophy that the progression of thought/ideas cannot transpire without the material conditions, and that one is not more or less in/dispensable than the other i.e. both thought/ideas and matter are interdependent!

Lorette: In just a few words, what would you say your poetry is about? What do you want readers to take with them?

Saad: My poetry is a compendium of poetic discourses, which is an embodiment of: 1) contemplations, 2) memories, 3) experiences, and 4) emotions. My poetry also entails the elements of materialism, idealism, romanticism, and utopia.

Above all, my poetry is about:

  1. Reflections on: a) life/existence, b) the facets of life/existence i.e. ideas and experiences of subjectivity, objectivity, dichotomy, plurality, singularity, art, culture, civilisation, et cetera, and c) an array of the Western/Eastern logos, ethos, and pathos and its relevance/application in constructing our day-to-day lives.
  2. Homage to language, art, literary art, and philosophy.
  3. Odes to various in/significant thinkers, philosophers, artists, poets, and writers, who have contributed in some way to the entire experience of the enterprise that the homo sapiens are.
  4. Tributes to many family members, friends, and acquaintances (across the globe), who I have been/am associated with, who have had a part to play in some way in my life and I, in theirs.
  5. Contributing to the world literary art scene and the world literature as a conscious homo poeticus-philosophicus.

I hope for my poetry to resonate with the readers-that is: the readers are able to relate to the reflections, experiences, memories, feelings, and philosophical notions in some way; that the poems also become, besides being a source of literary pleasure, a source of inspiration for the readers to contemplate existence, practice self-reflectivity, reflect on (the direction of) our society and culture; that the readers are encouraged to adopt art/literary art as a medium of (individual/collective) self-expression.

Read the Full Interview here.