This is Video of the Week from Wales Arts Review. We’ll be showcasing some of the best art in Wales with a new video shared every week. From music to drama and everything in between, videos will not be limited by medium. Today’s video is ‘Ble Mae Bilaadi?’ from Hanan Issa.
For this week’s video of the week, we’ll be taking a look back at a poetry piece from poet Hanan Issa and choreographer/dancer Aisha Naamani, in light of Hanan Issa being named the new National Poet of Wales. Ble Mae Bilaadi? explores Issa’s and Namaani’s mixed heritage connections and disconnections with Wales. The poem and accompanying dance piece captures the juxtapositions between being a female, mixed race White/Arab living in Wales.
Hanan Issa is a Welsh-Iraqi poet and writer, and is also the co-founder of Wales first BAME open mic series ‘Where I’m Coming From’, which is based in Cardiff. Her most recent work is her debut poetry collection entitled My Body Can House Two Hearts, which was released by BurningEye Books in October 2019. Hanan Issa is now the fifth poet to take on the role of National Poet of Wales, and will undergo her role for the next three years until 2025.
Speaking on Ble Mae Bilaadi?, choreographer and dancer Aisha Naamani said: “Hanan has done a beautiful job of cultivating such a powerful poem; she captures the essence of feeling as though we belong here, but also long for somewhere else which is very different, and was not fully understood whilst growing up and perhaps something that we do not always understand for ourselves.”
Speaking on her new role as National Poet of Wales, a year after her poem Ble Mae Bilaadi?, Hanan Issa said: “Poetry exists in the bones of this country. I want people to recognise Wales as a country bursting with creativity: a land of poets and singers with so much to offer the arts. I’d like to continue the great work of my predecessors in promoting Wales, Welshness, and the Welsh language outside of its borders.”
You can watch Ble Mae Bilaadi? below, and you can read the poem here.