Written by Robert Ghanem
Translated by Rasha Zantout
NNA - Zgharta Zawiya is an area rich with authors, of fact and fiction, and poets who yearn to tell the story of their land, whether residing in Lebanon or abroad.
A sign of the healthy outpour of literature in the area is Sheikh Nassif Shamir's latest book titled, "Writers from Our Land," the English for "Aklam Min Endena," which is the sequel to a previous book also tackling a similar topic.
Another such book was the research carried out by former District Commissioner Antoine Fawal, "Glossary of Zgharta-Zawiya Poets," whereby he confirmed that the region has a wealth of literary figures whose poetry, both modern and classic, is of premium quality.
This year's cultural season witnessed many book signings for authors such as: Antoine Ayrout, Fawzi Yammine, Antoine Doueihi, Antonio Sheikh Wafa, Milad Mouawad, and Sarkis Karam. Other authors from Zgharta Zawiya but living abroad also published books this year in Venezuela, Australia and Canada.
Youssef Bek Karam
Tens of books were published on Youssef Bek Karam, also known as Youssef Bey Boutros Karam, a Lebanese Maronite notable who fought in the 1860 civil war and led a rebellion in 1866 against the Ottoman Empire rule in Mount Lebanon.
Some of these prominent books about Karam are, "This Man is Youssef Bek," by poet Maurice Awad, and "Poetry for His Sword," English for "Lisayfehe al Ashaar," by Mohssen Yammine and Antoine Fawal, And Sarkis Abou Zeid's "Uncannonized Saint."
Head of Youssef Bek Karam Organization in Australia, Sarkis Karam, also published a book in English titled "Prince of Heroes," which is meant to introduce the new generation of the Lebanese community to this important historic figure.
In Venezuela an old book that was first published in 1944 resurfaced due to the effort of Ghassan Makari. The book is in Spanish and titled "I Will Sacrifice so Lebanon Lives, Youssef Bek Karam 1823-1889." Makari explained that originally the book came from Mexico and only 250 copies were published. He found it among the belongings of his cousin Boutros Yammine and decided to republish it in honor of a man who did not only live by the sword but also by the pen.
Author Milad Mouawad wrote a book titled "For History," or "Li al Tareekh" based on personal accounts and historic events on the massacre of Ehden on that dark day on June 13, 1978. In the book's opening Mouawad poses the question, "Why a person from Mouawad family writes about Ehden massacre? Well, why not?"
The author sought after various sources for the sake of objectivity, and he tried to evade sentimentality, but to no avail as the pain of that day continued to linger on.
Poems and Poetry
Poetry had the lion's share in this year's publications in Ehden and Zgharat Zawiya. Student Haitham Shaghourie published his debut work titled "Palace of Misery." Poet Antonio Sheikh Wafa also published his second book of poems.
Fawzi Yammine tackled an interesting new experiment into poetry titled "Exercises in Renewal of Time," and went on to explain that his book speaks of nothing.
"A dream is a light hat that we wear every time the fluffy clouds call on us, or a coral summons us to the bottom of the sea. A dream is a rising sun after our sun has set," Yammine wrote.
The President's Speech
From Canada to Lebanon, author Georgette Farshakh Frangieh translated "Le Discours Du President" into Arabic, which tells the fictitious story of a man who is given the responsibility to rule the country and has to come up with new modern rules, holidays and foreign policies for a nation of five thousand years of civilization.