ALKHOBAR: SIRAJ WAHAB | Arab News Staff
Published — Saturday 2 February 2013
Last update 3 February 2013 12:22 am
Saudi poet Nimah Ismail Nawwab’s latest book, “Canvas of the Soul: Mystic Poems from the Heartland of Arabia,” is getting good reviews as the poet continues her book tours, lectures, readings, book signings and workshops in several countries.
For many readers the majesty of Islamic arts is fully showcased in this remarkable feast for the eyes and senses, a feast that begins with the striking cover.
As an art lover and photographer whose work with artists, calligraphers and filmmakers has led to an interest in highlighting the Islamic arts, Nawwab decided to have the artwork produced in Turkey, which she considers “the land of master calligraphers.” She worked with the US-based publisher Tughra Publishing and their branch offices in Istanbul to compose the designs.
“Every graphic element, every color, on every page with every poem and how each poem was laid out was carefully worked out,” Nawwab told Arab News. “This is not the usual practice with publishers in the industry, but I stipulated that in the contract and it was a real blessing, and was due to my background with art history and familiarity of publication layout.”
Praise for her work has come from international scholars and artists such as Sami Yusuf, Shems Frieldander, Omid Safi, Mohamed Zakariya, James Morris and Tayyibah Taylor.
Nawwab was recently ranked at No. 6 in the list of the most influential Muslim women. Her new volume of English poetry offers readers a window into the soul of a woman who is a firm believer in combining the arts, promoting Islamic calligraphy and her stunning poetic compositions. She continues to break records with her poetic work raising the bar of her art, building on the previous best-seller “The Unfurling,” which had led to book signings in Washington, D.C., and Saudi Arabia.
Nawwab shares her moving poems that embody a voice that recalls that Islam emphasizes not only Divine Justice but also Divine Mercy.
According to one reviewer, the present book is significant in that it reflects something of that classical expression of spiritual beauty in a contemporary language from by a female poet who hails from the land of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Nawwab’s latest tours in the US, Canada and UK, and a most recent trip to Istanbul led to readings, lectures and signings where audiences engaged with her in a unique and highly interactive manner.
Musician Sami Yusuf described Nawwab as a talented writer and poet “who is not afraid to speak her mind and address issues that, quite frankly, are often ignored as a result of timidity.”
“I commend her efforts in this noble initiative where the arts combine in powerfully written poetic compositions and a showcasing of Islamic arts,” said Yusuf.
Professor Shems Friedlander, author, filmmaker, painter, who contributed the foreword to the volume, said: “Breath is the essence of life. Drawing is the essence of painting. Typography is the essence of design. Poetry is the essence of literature.”