Farah Chamma evolving through poetry

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Updated 12 August 2013

Farah Chamma evolving through poetry

Farah Chamma is a Palestinian poet, studying law and political science at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. She began writing poetry at the age of 14 at around the same time she began exploring her personal relationship with her faith. Farah writes poetry in English, Arabic, and French using a variety of lyrical and linguistic styles. Her work can mainly be described as introspective. She is one of the youngest members of Poeticians, a group of poets and writers from the Middle East. She has been engaged in performance poetry and spoken word since 2008 and has participated in many events and competitions including the SIKKA Art Fair and the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature. In 2012, she organized and hosted “Sip of Poetry” in Abu Dhabi, a poetry evening featuring various poets from the region. She is currently working on launching a student-led poetry group with the help of award-winning poet and hip-hop artist, Paul D, aiming to encourage spoken word performances in colleges and universities.

How powerful in your opinion is the spoken word?
I think the spoken word is the most powerful way for poetry to spread in our world today. Performed poem spreads much faster than the written one. I also think it’s a powerful art since it combines both literary and theatrical skills, giving more space for creativity.

What got you into poetry?
I started writing at the age of 14, but my “real” experience with poetry began when I first performed in front of an audience with the Dubai-based poetry group the Poeticians- I was around 15. Ever since, I have been engaging in performance poetry.

What inspires Farah Chamma?
What mostly inspires me to write is the audience, which always proves to be supportive and thirsty for more art and performance. Whenever I sit down to write, I think of the individuals that would appreciate with sincerity every word that is to be written.

Your poem “How Must I believe” was circulated all over social media sites, what is the feedback and what inspired you to write it?
The majority of the feedback is very encouraging, however, I received some criticism regarding both the language of the poem and its content. Some found that the Arabic language with which the poem was written is weak, which is understandable as my poem “How Must I Believe?” is one of my first written Arabic pieces (having been educated in an American school and written poetry in English mainly). Others found the poem to be too polemic and the majority misunderstood the poem to be a declaration of atheism, which is not the case at all.

Who are your favorite poets?
Tamim Al Barghouti, Hisham El Gakh, and T.S. Eliot. .


You can also watch her video of the poem “How Must I believe” here:

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’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

(FILES) This photo taken on March 22, 2016 shows a child gesturing to a woman at Dongdaemun Design Plaza in Seoul. (AFP)
Updated 18 December 2018

’No place for a mother’: S. Korea battles to raise birth rate

  • Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead

SEOUL: When Ashley Park started her marketing job at a Seoul drugmaker she had a near-perfect college record, flawless English, and got on well with her colleagues — none of which mattered to her employer once she fell pregnant.
Nine months after she joined, Park said, “They said to my face that there is no place in the company for a woman with a child, so I needed to quit.”
All the women working at the firm were single or childless, she suddenly realized, and mostly below 40.
Park’s case exemplifies why so many South Korean women are put off marriage and childbirth, pushing the country’s birth rate — one of the world’s lowest — ever further down.
Earlier this month Seoul announced its latest set of measures to try to stem the decline, but critics say they will have little to no effect in the face of deep-seated underlying causes.
Many South Korean firms are reluctant to employ mothers, doubting their commitment to the company and fearing that they will not put in the long hours that are standard in the country — as well as to avoid paying for their legally-entitled birth leave.
When Park refused to quit, her boss relentlessly bullied her — banning her from attending business meetings and ignoring her at the office “like I was an invisible ghost” — and management threatened to fire her husband, who worked at the same company.
After fighting for about six months, she finally relented and offered her resignation, giving birth to a daughter a month later. Aside from a brief stint at an IT start-up that did not keep its promise of flexible working hours, she has been a stay-at-home mother ever since.
“I studied and worked so hard for years to get a job when youth unemployment was so high, and enjoyed my work so much... and look what happened to me,” Park told AFP.
Now 27, she has been rejected at several job interviews as soon as she revealed she had a child, and has given up seeking employment, trying to set up her own trading business instead.
“The government kept telling women to have more children... but how, in a country like this?” she asked.

The South’s fertility rate — the number of children a woman is expected to have in her lifetime — fell to 0.95 in the third quarter of 2018, the first time it has dropped below 1 and far short of the 2.1 needed to maintain stability.
As a result of the trend, which has been dubbed a “birth strike” by women, the population of the world’s 11th largest economy, currently 51 million, is expected to start falling in 2028.
Many cite reasons ranging from the expense of child-rearing, high youth unemployment, long working hours and limited daycare to career setbacks for working mothers.
Even if women hold on to their jobs, they bear a double burden of carrying out the brunt of household chores.
Patriarchal values remain deeply ingrained in the South: nearly 85 percent of South Korean men back the idea of women working, according to a state survey, but that plummets to 47 percent when asked whether they would support their own wives having a job.
Employment rates for married men and women are dramatically different — 82 percent and 53 percent respectively.
Now nearly three-quarters of South Korean women aged 20-40 see marriage as unnecessary, an opinion poll by a financial magazine and a recruitment website showed. But almost all children in the South are born in wedlock.

Against that backdrop, the South’s government has spent a whopping 136 trillion won ($121 billion) since 2005 to try to boost the birth rate, mostly through campaigns to encourage more young people to wed and reproduce, without success.
Earlier this month it announced yet another round of measures.
They included expanding child subsidies of up to 300,000 won ($270) a month, and allowing parents with children younger than eight to work an hour less each day to take care of their offspring.
More daycare centers and kindergartens will be built, and men will be allowed — but not obliged — to take 10 days of paid birth leave, up from the current three.
But many measures were not legally binding and carried no punishment for firms that denied their workers the promised benefits, and the package met a disdainful response.
“The government policies are based on this simplistic assumption that ‘if we give more money, people would have more children’,” the Korea Women Workers Association said in a statement.
Seoul should first address “relentless sexual discrimination at work and the double burden of work and housechores” for women, it added.
The centrist Korea Times newspaper also questioned whether such “lacklustre” state policies would bring in real change unless the government tackled the real drivers of women shunning marriage and childbirth.
“Unless these harsh conditions for women change, no amount of government subsidies will convince women having children is a happy choice.”