I’ve little practice handwriting Arabic. Even less am I schooled in the monastic rigors of calligraphy. I do confess to an effort to “draw” Arabic. My models are the characters as they appear in printed texts. I savor their swoops and trills. I try not to fuss over my renderings, just take off and see how it ends — nip, tuck and stretch, with spur-of-the-moment flourishes, all hoist on the petard of whim. Something decorative may emerge from the garish fizzles now and again.
The important side effect of drawing Arabic is that it impresses aspects of the language on my mind, helping me retain new vocabulary or a turn of phrase. It’s part and parcel of my re-immersion in a language that laid hold of me at an early stage of university and rescues me now. I pore once again over my texts a grands coups de dictionnaire, as the French say: “hitting the dictionary hard.” With luck I’ll build sufficient linguistic muscle to engage with works by poets writing in Arabic today.
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