Interview: Ms Rawda Al Hajj, the Arab bard of the century

By: Ahmed Alhaj (Site Admin)


Khartoum(Sudanow Info.) -Rawda Al-Haj Mohamed Osman, known in the Arab world as Rawda Al Hajj, a tall and slender, gold – ebony colored Sudanese who against all odd, crowned herself as the Arab Bard, gaining acclamation among Arab savvy connoisseurs of well distilled poetry. It becomes even more astonishing when she was crowned with the Arab most prestigious bouquet of honor by the Saudi royal family with Ukaz poetic baton, standing tall in a land dominated by males.

It is not only the sheer genius but of it is equally hard work and professional training, making use of her knowledge of TV and Radio presentation technique, for Rawda (Arabic for Garden) endowed Sudanese poet and famous radio and TV announcer, elbowing stammering poets and hesitant reciters would not be intentional, but rather a mere performance of what she knows best and performs best: give life to words and animate otherwise lukewarm phrases. She excelled where other would stammer, convincing and charming she stood her ground, thrilling the crowd from the Arab Gulf region in the Far East to Nouakchott in the far west on the ocean.

Her poems bring to the forefront the issue of woman, a human being with little room to maneuver in the Middle East when it comes to feeling and expression of feelings. It is true that Arab female poets have excelled in eulogies and in mourning poems, but few, very few indeed, could stand among men and recite a poem of love in full dignity and reconciliation with self. Many critics, not for lack of competition, but for lack of such sheer excellence that take them back to the times of desert revering poet, today regard her as one of the most important young poetic voices in the Arab world.

Rawda represented Sudan at several poetry competitions and topped all her competitors in many occasions, including in the no nonsense competition of the Arab poet, that left many famous poets in their homeland quite ruffled when they ventured into the Abu Dhabi, tumultuous ocean under the referring of hard-line traditionalist Arab poets, amalgamated with modern 21st vanguard bards. Her carrier reached its pinnacle in 2012, when she won the poetry prize of Souk ukaz, (best known pre-Islamic scene for annual social, political and commercial gatherings and a location of competitive recitation of poetry and prose of wisdom).

She was glamorously received in her Sudanese national attire among royals in the Souk ukaz price awarding ceremony in Saudi Arabia at an annual competition offering prizes to the Arab artists on the various domains of arts including poetry.

Abdalla Al-Sayed, a Sudanow reporter interviewed Rawda Al-Haj in Arabic, below are experts of the outcome:

  • Question: First of all, tell us about yourself! Moreover, does the poet belong to his/her environment? How can we mix between what is local and international together and how the poet’s human feature sets out from what is local?

Answer:  was born in Kasala city in eastern Sudan. It is one of the most distinguished cities in the country with its distinct privacy. A city which embodied Sudan’s various cultures and imparted on them its distinguished features. Additionally, Kasala has also acquired cultures of the neighboring Arab and African countries and the world, turning itself into a mini-globe, as I believe.

As for mixing between what is local and what is global, I believe the world does not need similar images, similar cultures or similar disputes. You need to leap to what is global with something new and that is where distinction rests!”



















Question: You have participated in many arts competitions internally and

  • externally. To what extent do you think these competitions could be regarded as Souk Okaz or a standard for measuring the real creativity and distinction in Sudan?

Answer: I don’t think competitions represent a standard for distinction or a measure for, but they could be an indicator for certain creativity or an attraction to a specific type of arts.”

  • Question: You wrote about your birthplace Kasala and other Sudanese, Arab and western cities that you have visited. How does the place manifest in Rawda Al-Haj’s poetry and what distinguishes Kasala from other Sudan’s cities, which you have managed to portray in beautiful and well-penned poetry that astonished the world?

Answer: I feel there is something connecting me to places and there is a kind of relationship that arises between me and the places I visit or see. Poetry speaking, I categorize the places into tightfisted cities and generous and inspiring ones, dumb cities and eloquent cities and cities of poetry and others of prose. I know some places which instigate me to write and others where I leave my poetic notebooks at their airports. ”

  • Question: How do you view you poetic experience and is poetry a feminine? How can a female tame her male match in a field where man claims entrepreneurship?

Answer: (In Arabic language) the earth is feminine, language is feminine and the poem is feminine. I greatly believe in the distinction and privacy of what women write. I know the special magic which touches me in the poems and writings of women. There is something there, something completely different.”

  • Question: Is poetry what the people sing? Is it true that poetry is a singing of uttered images? Don’t you think that the way you read out poetry is a kind of singing and intonation, or is it just one of the secrets of Sudan’s Khansa (Al-Khansa was a renowned 7th century female Arabic poet)? To whom do you whisper your poetry before releasing it to the audience, do you utter it to yourself first?

Answer: In the ancient times, the singing of the Arabs was poetry until poetry was separated from singing in later ages, namely with the introduction of the musical instrument and other relevant things. However, poetry used to be chanted and intonated and therefore, the skill of poetry recitation remains another blessing and a gift different from writing but complementary to at the same time. How many great poems spoiled by the bad performance of their poets and how many simple texts enriched by the great performance through which their poets recited them!!! I do my utmost to present what I write in a beautiful manner, utilizing in this my skills which I have acquired from being an announcer at the TV and Radio.”

  • Question: Inside any writer, there is a fair critic. They are like a rival and arbitrator, or so believes renowned poet Alim Abbas. Do you perform critic on your productions and are you keen to amend or modify what you write?

Answer: I completely agree with our great poet Alim Abbas, for without that critic, any poet would have been granted a life certificate after each written poem. Therefore, I say my unpublished poetry almost equals my published one either because of the execution which I practice over some of my poems which fail to persuade me to grant them the right in life or because some of them were lost during my early days of my poetic experience as I never thought I would need them or return to them again. I used to write a lot and dispose of many texts.”

  • Question: Rawda Al-Haj is the first Arab female poet to win the prize of Souk Ukaz for poetry or Ukaz Market impermeable. What does this prize mean to you?

Answer: This is a great honor for the Sudanese poetry, which its spring has fed my poetic experience. I dedicate this success to the Sudanese people who have granted me the confidence and approved my poetic experience through their highly matured poetic taste. They have seen in me what I couldn’t see in myself. I also dedicate it to all Sudan’s creative artists.”

  • Question: What of your poems, do you hope would be translated into other languages and what is the message of the poem?

Answer: The poem of Imraa’a Mithl Kullanisa (A woman like all women) because I wrote it and in my mind all the women of the world sharing high common human traits , and the poem of Ish Lil-Qasida (Live for the Poem) as it represents my poetic beginnings and reflects a special human pain.”

  • Question: Rawda Al-Haj still maintains the astonishment of discovery, as in a child, have you ever tried to address children?

Answer: Yes, I did via a Divan titled (Square Globe) that has not been published yet. I have derived the name of the Divan- for this collection of poems- from a little girl who once said: “If the earth was square, all children would find corners to hide at”


  • Question: Who of the Sudanese poets presently says something contradicting

  • Antra Ibn Shadad (a Pre-Islamic Arabian hero and poet who was famous for both his poetry and his adventurous life) -- when he says: “Have the poets left in the garment a place for a patch to be patched by me; and did you know the abode of your beloved after reflection?”?


Answer: All poets, including myself, and no matter how different our courses to poetry are, what we say remains within this saying of Antra. This applies to all the Arab poets.”

  • Question: What would you like to say to your audience who adore your poems and follow you successful Radio and TV programs?

Answer: Thanks for all such admiration.”


Sudanow is the longest serving English speaking magazine in the Sudan. It is chartarized by its high quality professional journalism, focusing on political, social, economic, cultural and sport developments in the Sudan. Sudanow provides in depth analysis of these developments by academia, highly ...


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