In her 1949 collection, Shrapnel and Ashes, the Iraqi poet Nazik al-Mala'ika reflects on her generation's rebellion against the classical Arabic ode. In this collection, all the words of Arabic poetry seem to be incendiary. Her recollection of what happened at that time illustrates how she and others were changing the sounds of their verse to meet the contemporary demands of their souls. Poets like al-Mala'ika are working with the form of free verse in their attempt to compose a quieter and deeper poetry. Among poets of free verse, the secular is more pronounced because it reverberates in their articulation of poetry's realm, tools, and public in ways that sustain secularism's sequestering of spheres. Nine years into the Palestinian collapse of 1948, one poet, Mahmoud Darwish, published the first free verse in al-Jadid. In the narrative of another modern Arab poet, Taha al-Mutawakkil, rhythm is equated with screaming or droning. In their desire to belong to secular modernity in Palestine and elsewhere in the Arab world, poets distanced themselves from the sound of words.
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