Updated to include end of post section, “Who’s May Ziadeh? ”
🎥🎤📜 I am on just around the 28:50 mark.😊After my line in the poem, ”Do you hear me?” I hear a reply. 😀😅💕 Afterwards, you may also see me give a pretty long answer to a surprise question that I was happy to answer.
I will watch it now too. 😊😊
Beyond every horizon is an open horizon. Life is always in repetition, thought in diversity, and art in regeneration.”—Miss May Ziadeh
Marie Elias Ziyadeh (1886-1941), who became known as “Miss May”, was of Lebanese-Palestinian origin. She was born in Nazareth on 11 February 1886 to Elias Ziyadeh, who had moved to Palestine from his native Lebanese village of Shatoul, and Nozha Mu’ammer, a well-educated Palestinian woman.
At the turn of the century, the Ziyadeh family migrated to Egypt and settled in Cairo, where Elias became the owner of a successful newspaper, Al-Mahrusa, in which May started publishing her poetry in both French and Arabic under the pen name Isis Copia. In 1911, she translated several poems from her first French collection “Fleurs de Réve” into Arabic and published them in Jurji Zaydan’s newspaper.
The same year, May published – under the pseudonym Aidah, her second poetry collection, “Aidah’s Diary,” – also in French. When she began writing in Arabic, she settled on the pen name “May,” [also spelled Mai or Mae] which was proposed by her mother and composed of the first and last letters of her original Christian name [Marie]. It was under this name, more acceptable to Arabic readers, preceded by the appellation “Miss,” that she was to achieve fame.
In 1917, May graduated from the newly opened Egyptian University. She [would become] one of the most distinguished Arabic writers of the earlier 20th century.
Poetry was the first literary genre she explored.
Her book Dhulumat wa Ashi’a (Darkness and Rays)…revealed her skill in poetic composition. Still studying, she continued to publish her prose poetry as well as other literary pieces in Arabic newspapers and magazines.
Her famous poetic prose work Ayna Watani? (Where is My Homeland?) reflected her feeling of being an outsider in a society traditionally dominated by men.
May turned out to be a prolific writer, contributing to the modernization of the Arabic language and thought in nearly every field. Having mastered at least five languages, she skilfully translated novels from English, German and French into Arabic.
She also experimented with the genre of short stories and consistently championed women’s rights in her books and lectures.
…Herself an activist for the emancipation of women [‘women’s cause,’] she wrote sensitive biographical studies of three pioneering female writers and poets: A’isha al-Taymouriyya, Malak Hifni Nasif,and Warda al-Yaziji.
In Cairo, May ran the most famous literary salon in the Arab world during the 1920s and ’30s. Open to men and women of varied backgrounds and modelled on the French example, the salon attracted the greatest writers, poets and intellectuals of the region.
With her passing, May left behind more than 15 books of poetry, literature and translations.
Continues…now from Reviving Literary Legacy, May Ziadeh:
May Ziadeh suffered from misunderstanding and under-appreciation in the good days of her Literary Salon, even at the hands of some of her fans…May, as the lady of the Salon, gradually and painfully understood that fake affection and superficial praise are much worse than enmity…[Miss] May struggled as women’s looks were confused with the excellence of their (intellectual) work. However, her creative talents – and her feminine presence – transcended gender barriers to reach humanity…
She became attached to [poet and visual artist] Kahlil Gibran through reading his literary works, falling in love with a man she never met. She longed to move away from those who were ambivalent about her intellectual ability and creativity…May sought a relationship where she would be recognized as an “artist at par” [great artist] and as a human being seeking inspiration and true friendship.
—Quote written by Kahlil Gibran: “When God threw me, a pebble, into this wondrous lake, I disturbed its surface with countless circles. But when I reached the very depths, I became very still.” credit: vintagebeirut.com.
In her late life, May’s situation was particularly desperate as she…[suffered] the death of her loved ones and the betrayal of friends conspiring against her. [Before her death], May had written: “I hope that after my death someone will do me justice…and extract from my humble writings, the spirit of sincerity, friendship, honesty, and enthusiasm within them, for all that is good and beautiful, because it is so, and not for a desire to benefit from it.”
Today, we see a new generation of researchers render[ing] her work the justice it truly deserves, [including] looking at its philosophical dimension.