Hissa Hilal

Country

Saudi Arabia

Known for

Poet and Editor

Dates

Hijri 1382-Present (AH); Common Era 1963-Present (CE)

Hissa Hilal

Biography

Hissa Hilal rose to international fame in the spring of 2010 during the fourth annual “Million's Poet” competition, which airs weekly from the United Arab Emirates’ capital, Abu Dhabi. The program gives poets a chance to boast their original work as it did with Hilal’s 15-verse poem, “The Chaos of Fatwas” written in the Nabati form, native to nomadic tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. The poem was “a response to all clerics that issue inhumane edicts” and criticized those who corrupt Islam’s egalitarian and just vision to “terrorize people” and “prey on everyone seeking peace.” The poem became an immediate audience favorite, was covered favorably by the international press, and eventually secured Hilal third place on the show. Hilal became the first female finalist in the Million’s Poet Contest, drawing accolades as well as criticism. Although some Western media outlets depicted her as a simple, veiled “housewife,” Hilal is a published poet who has previously worked as poetry editor for the London-headquartered Arab daily Al-Hayat, as well as a proud mother of four. Born to a family of Bedouins from Al Malihan tribe, Hilal has been writing in both the classical Arabic and colloquial styles of poetry since the age of 11 and has two published poetry collections: "Lahjat Al Hail" and "Al Nadawi". She chooses to use provocative language in her poems because “extremism is so strong and you cannot talk about it in any other way.” Hissa Hilal has most recently edited a controversial collection of pre-1950s poems written by Bedouin women, titled "Divorce and Kholu' Poetry - A Reading of the Status of Women in Tribal Society - Nabati Poetry as a Witness." The 297-page anthology was published by The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage’s Poetry Academy and is divided into two main sections. The first section is titled “The Right of Choice”; the second speaks of “Rejection and Resistance.”

Sources

Fatima Bahloul, Interview, <a href="http://www.altmuslimah.com/a/b/a/3623/">"Hissa Hilal, Poet of Millions,"</a> 03/31/2010 <a href="http://www.middle-east-online.com/english/?id=38487">“ADACH Publishes Book on Divorce in Poetry in Tribal Society,”</a> Middle East Online Barbara Surk and Hadeel Al-Shalchi, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/22/hissa-hilal-saudi-woman-b_n_508778.html">“Hissa Hilal, Saudi Woman, Blasts Muslim Clerics On Live TV,"</a> 3/22/2010 Hamida Ghafour, <a href="http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100403/WEEKENDER/704029838/1041/BUSINESS.">“Hissa Hilal, the voice of the Million’s,"</a> The National, 04/03/2010.
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