Monthly Archives: January 2011

Art and Beauty in the Little Corners of Beirut

A lot of people complain about living in Beirut, being surrounded by concrete and construction, turmoil and traffic. We live and we expect beauty to come to us, but today, I found beauty and art in the little corners of Beirut.

We expect Beirut to give us grand gestures, we’re hopeless romantics who keep waiting for a big green field and sun-baked orange rooftops. We don’t take the time to realize that Beirut is a shy maiden, leaving little petals and short love notes for us to find.

I found beauty in walking in the rain, safe under my umbrella with my friend, whispering and laughing, clicking our heels in unison and forgetting how old life made us become.

I found beauty in a glass of white wine, warm pink cheeks and a dark wooden table in a small restaurant.

I found beauty in an old Lebanese house with a green door, a lantern and a red wall. In coffee, cupcakes and verses of poetry.

I found beauty in a hand-made lamp with spoons and little coffee cups hanging down, reminding me of the tea party in Alice in Wonderland.

I found beauty in a dimly-lit balcony, with one round paper lamp hung from a tall, arched, white Lebanese ceiling. All seen from a distance, like most beautiful things are.

My city has so much to offer, we just have to be willing to see.


Fairouz, Edith, Nina: “That Bird Sings Only when she’s Unhappy”

My mother doesn’t listen to Fairouz
“It reminds me of the war”, she says.
On the radio, bombs outside,
“Li Beirut” melting on our window sills,
A splinter in our worn hearts.
The smell of sweat, bread and Jasmine,
“Li Beirut”.

“Si tu meurs, que tu sois loin de moi
Peu m’importe, si tu m’aimes
Car moi je mourrai aussi… »

A Hymn to Love, she has sung
On stage, holding a handkerchief
And her heart in her hand.
Her love had just died
On a plane from New York.
She heard, sang,
They clapped, wept,
She left, fainted.
And I,
I sit and listen
To Hymne a l’Amour.

A voice, like pouring wine
Words that you lick off your fingertips.
Brown sugar
Melting in tea.
Toasted castanea, hot in your hands.
Don’t smoke in bed.

Zombies at School and other Poetic Devices

“Miiiiiss, I hate writing poems!!!”
That’s the general response of most of the boys in my 7th grade classes whenever I tell them to write a poem. Every time we cover a new concept (figures of speech, free verse poetry, haikus…), I let my students write a poem to demonstrate their understanding of it.

Today, I was reviewing plot elements and the famous “plot triangle” with my students. After drawing the triangle, and after a few random comments on how two students were dared to eat grass and dirt during the school trip they had earlier in the day, I asked my students to draw a big triangle with the following beginning: “It was another normal day at school…”.

This is the plot of one of my students:

Exposition: It was another normal day at school
Rising Action 1: Suddenly, zombies came out of the ground
Rising Action 2: The teachers ran away, scared
Rising Action 3: The zombies ate all the doughnuts in the cafeteria
Climax: The zombies ate all the footballs
Falling Action 1: Kassem came with his machine gun
Falling Action 2: He killed all the zombies
Falling Action 3: The teachers came back
Resolution: We all wrote a poem about zombies in English class


My reply: BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Glimpse of Istanbul: If Statues Could Talk, They Wouldn’t

It is such a secret place, the land of tears. ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Photos taken by Dima Matta

‘Origami Pathology’

I usually don’t post my poetry, but thought I’d make an exception this time.

Origami Pathology

Cut, fold, throw

Straight to Origami hell

Cut the lines

Make the wings

Shape the tail.

It can’t fly though.

“Origami Mami, tell me why I can’t fly”

“Paper wings won’t get you far

Stay and just giggle

At my ghastly scissors

Because you won’t get far

My Origami baby

Just sit

And be pretty

While I look witty

Making an itsy


Origami birdy.”

I can fold them and put little hidden messages

In the corners of their wings.

Messages of strength

And peace

And freedom

And power.

And send them to third world cities in disguise

Past the frontiers that scare us so

Past the leaders we despise,

Signed by Origami hero.

The third world cities will be surprised

At my bold and rebellious sabotage.

They will call the press,

Alert the media,

Prepare the army for my terrorist attacks.

And I’ll be dubbed Origami Kamikaze,

Dropping paper bombs on an unaware third world city.

They’ll put me away,

Have a shrink evaluate me,

A doctor will check my eyes and pulse

All the while looking excessively repulsed

At my Origami-making hands.

They will lock me,

Kick me,

Starve me,

Then take a picture of me,

Looking like a skeletal cave person

With eyes sinking in

And ribs sticking out.

Then I will die.

And they will make an example of me:

“This is what happens when you get the deadly,

Tragic case

Of Origami Pathology.”

Written by Dima Matta

Photos by Dima Matta

“I’m a Material Girl?!” The Gossip Girl Syndrome

Diamonds, in or out?


I blame Gossip Girl.

I blame Serena Van der Woodsen and Blaire Waldorf for making us think that we should all wear designer clothes or off with our heads! J’ACCUSE!

Would I want to wear a T-shirt that says “Mrs. Chuck Bass”? Cause it’s out there, people!

When I looked at a $300 purse that can barely fit my cell and my keys, and thought: “hmm, why not”, I knew I was in trouble. I knew that I was one purse handle away from becoming one of those girls that hang their designer bags on their elbow and hold their blackberry in the palm of their hand, all extended for the world to see.

A girl I know bought a Blackberry just because “it makes those little cute clicking sounds when you type!” Oh to be young again, when blackberry only referred to the fruit!

Gossip Girl

After spending 30 minutes on the phone with my friend discussing if underwear should be, in fact, worn as outerwear, we also knew we were in trouble. Our pre-Gossip Girl days were spent talking about archetypal and structuralist theories and whether they apply in colonial literature. In our defense, we still do talk about male archetypes, namely Chuck Bass and Nate Archibald, and we definitely talk about their “structure”.

In Beirut, Gossip Girl outfits would not attract the Lebanese Chuck Bass, but it would get ya a whole lotta “shou ya 7elo, ya 2amar, ya 2ashta”. If that’s your thing, then by all means, go for it!

Gossip Girl, you have ruined us. BUT, if anyone knows when season 4 will be out on DVD, do let me know ASAP 🙂