May Kutbi is a Saudi poet who has strongly proved herself in her country through poems that express the feelings of women.
Her poetry collection entitled "Ashikat" has received much praise. She is currently preparing for a collection that combines poets from the East and the West in a message of peace and cultural association.
Al-Shorfa met with her during her stay in Lebanon.
Al-Shorfa: Tell us about yourself.
May: I am a woman from the Arab world; I have great ambitions and many dreams. Till today, I was able to achieve some of them. Interestingly, every time I realise some dream, another one surfaces that was not foreseen.
Al-Shorfa: What is the most important dream you have achieved so far?
May: My creation, the poetic collection entitled "Ashikat". I wanted it to be far from the traditional and the classical. It resembles me because I am unconventional.
Al-Shorfa: Who does it address?
May: It addresses the emotions of the Arab woman, but not only in terms of the emotional aspect that connects us with men, but the social situations that we, as Arab women, live and experience on a daily basis as well. "Ashikat", in short, is revealing the feelings that cannot be easily or freely expressed by women.
Al-Shorfa: Does Saudi society accept your poetry?
May: Yes and both females and males. I receive many messages of admiration and appreciation. Women say that I give them motivation as well as confirmation that they are able to realise their goals without help from a specific party, because I am a living example of achieving what ones wants with personal effort. Most of what makes me happy is that I have opened the door for women so that they can break the barrier of fear inside them.
Al-Shorfa: What does your poetry revolve around?
May: All my poems fall under the umbrella of love. In each poem, I put myself in the shoes of every woman and I live her circumstances. I embody her and express (her feelings) with my voice. The woman is the one that inspires my poems, and men also occupy a large expanse in it. Life is a woman and a man. And men like to read my poems to learn what goes on in the minds of women.
Al-Shorfa: Does that mean that Saudi men have accepted you as a (female) poet?
May: Yes. I have realised a difficult goal. Our society is male-oriented par excellence, and it is very difficult for men to accept a woman’s success.
Al-Shorfa: Who among Saudi men respected your success?
May: Many, and in the forefront is Minister of Information Dr. Abdul Aziz Khoja, the late author Abdullah Al-Jafri, the late Dr. Ghazi Al-Qusaibi and other prominent names in the Kingdom who lauded my poetry. Saudi journalists also requested a tribute in my honour, but I thought that it was too early to bestow honours on me. A tribute must be for an achievement where society played a significant role, and not just for a certain perspective. I do not care for change to emerge through my writings.
Al-Shorfa: Then how do you achieve change?
May: I like to realise matters that benefit humanity, and to work on the human emotions from within, and within the ideas, urging humans to move towards intellectual usefulness for the purpose of improving the society in which we live. Culture and art play an important role for the future, and focus must be on both and not on the material aspects.
Al-Shorfa: What do you have in your repertoire so far?
May: Many poems and two written poetry collections. The first one is entitled "Hamasat Hairah" and the second "Thuraya" as well as a voiced poetry collection entitled "Ashikat".
Al-Shorfa: And your new work?
May: I am preparing for a second part of my voiced album "Ashikat", which will be read with voices of women of our Arab society. As for the quantum leap, it will take place through my collection entitled "May Kutbi and Friends from the West in an Encounter with the East". It is a project that was proposed by an Italian producer after he heard "Ashikat". And he wanted to link my poetry to poets from the West, so that this work would represent a message of peace and culture (association) between the East and the West. It will be recorded in Jeddah and Torino.