A mother of four from Saudi Arabia who recently shot to fame by using her poems to criticize religious extremism has failed to win the Arab world's biggest poetry competition. However, analysts say Hissa Hilal's participation in this year's Million's Poet contest will continue to have an impact on the art form, which is increasingly being used to highlight social problems and inequalities.
Hilal has been, without question, the biggest story of the televised tournament's fourth season.
In the weeks leading up to Wednesday evening's final she wrote and recited poetry condemning the strict laws in her country that separate men and women and also spoke out against Islamic clerics who issue hard-line religious decrees.
Her work was applauded by many who labeled her "brave," but it was also met with resentment from conservative members of Saudi society, some of whom issued death threats against her. Despite the dangers, Hilal refused to back out of the tournament, saying she had a message to get across.
"I'm trying to say maybe poetry can do what other things couldn't do - to make people more close and to feel all over the world that we have to share and care and that to have a nice human relationship is the most important thing," Hilal said.
Hilal was the first woman to ever reach the final of the competition, which features five contestants. She eventually finished in third place, but says she hopes her experience will inspire others.
"I was famous for about 20 years and I was always a very strong poet, but when I came here the people saw it. It was direct from my heart to them," Hilal said. "Maybe this is a new stage of Arabic life, especially for Arab women. Maybe it says something to the world."
The Million's Poet competition was launched in 2006 and was designed to promote the native poetry of the Arabian Peninsula, known an Nabati.
The show, which has been compared to the American Idol talent competition series in the United States, gets its name from the .3 million prize awarded to the winner.
This year, contestants came from 12 countries including the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait and Jordan. One of the show's three judges, Sultan al-Amini, says it has been the most successful season to date.
"All the people: small people, young, women, men… you'll find all levels watch this program and they know even the smallest things in this program," Amimi said. "They follow it and ask about it."
This year's runner up, Falah al-Mowraqi from Kuwait, says the popularity of Million's Poet can be attributed to the fact that people in the Gulf region consider poetry a vital part of their culture.
"Poetry is very, very important in Kuwait or the Emirates or Saudi Arabia. In the Middle East it's very important," Mowraqi said.
The Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage organizes and sponsors Million's Poet. Authority spokesman Eman Turki says tradition is shifting. And, she says the poems of Hilal and Mowraqi, who touched on terrorism, prove this.
"You can see that the trend in poetry is changing. It's not anymore about praising officials or sheikhs or the pride of the country or belonging," Turki said. "Poets now are more interested in people's lives, in daily life issues, in social change, even in political life."
Thirty-year-old Nasser al-Ajami of Kuwait was named this year's Million's Poet champion, earning the .3 million prize.
Mowraqi secured million for his second-place finish, while Hilal takes home 0,000 for third.
Words and Phrases in Use
contest (n) 比賽；競賽 contestant 比賽者；競爭者
religious extremism (n phr) 宗教極端主義
因為宗教差易所因起的紛爭在人類歷史上從不中斷。即使是出自於同一種宗教，內部教派意見分歧程度也往往不小於不同宗教間的紛爭。有幾個英語字詞，可以大約勾勒出幾種宗教態度的輪廓與傾向：extremism 極端主義 (對所信奉的宗教採堅定的立場，為達到目底，有採取激進手段的可能)，radicalism 激進主義 (著重於根本上的改變，徹底、快速的變革，有時含有採用極端手段的可能)，fundamentalism 基本教義主義 (主張宗教的基本教義不容於時代與社會的改變，有時是指對宗教教條、宗教聖典的字面意義要徹底遵行的一種態度)。化解各種宗教、教派間的爭端，最常被拿來呼籲的也就是religious tolerance (宗教寬容)。
to have an impact on (v phr) 對 . . . 產生影響
art form (n) 藝術形式
highlight (v) 突出；強調
inequality (n) 不平等；不平衡
Hilal的詩作會對伊斯蘭世界的詩的藝術形式(art form) 產生影響。不同於以往，她透過詩來凸顯 (highlight) 存在的社會問題與種種不平等(social problems, inequalities)。highlight 除了新聞裡「凸顯、強調」的意思以外，常用來指「用螢光比上色」的動作，螢光筆是 highlighter。
without question (pre phr) 毫無疑問的
tournament (n) 錦標賽；聯賽
condemn (v) 譴責，指責
hard-line (a) 不妥協的; 堅定的；堅決的
decree (n) 法令；政令
百萬詩人的比賽 (tournament)有女詩人的出現，毫無疑問的(without question) 的引起相當的注意。文中提到，Hilal的詩作是對中東的厲律(strict laws)，立場堅硬而守舊的教士 (hard-line clerics) 與其宗教律令(religious decrees) 的批判 (condemn, criticize)。相較之下，之前的詩作傳統傾向於對政府的歌功頌德(praising officials) ，與對國族優越感與歷史文化認同的唱合 (the pride of the country or belonging)。現在的詩人開始觀察平民的生活，也討論社會變遷與含政治意識的議題 (daily life issues, social change, political life)。
to issue death threats (against) 對…發出人身威脅、恐嚇 to receive ~ 受到生命的威脅
back out (of) (v. phr) 退出；撒手
由於Hilal的詩觸碰敏感的政治、社會、宗教議題，並對權威提出質疑與批評，這讓傳統派人士(conservative members) 對她發出生命的威脅 (death threats)。要是她不作罷的話，就要危害她的性命。但Hilal拒絕退出 (refuse to back out)，因為她認為她還有訊息要繼續透過詩作來傳達出去 (she had a message to get across)，讓人佩服她的勇氣。
third place (n) 第三名(名次)
第一名是 winner 或者是 the first place。報導一開始說到 “Hilal has failed to win the Arab world’s biggest poetry competition”，這並非是說她比賽輸的一無所有，而是指她沒有贏得比賽的第一名。通常英文裡 win 這個字就只保留給第一名使用，所以 “win a contest/competition” 是指贏得了比賽，也就是贏得了第一名，所以 “fail to win” 僅是指沒有得到贏得比賽第一，不代表是「失敗」了，而什麼名次都沒有。第二名除了second place以外，文中還用另一個說法就是 runner up。得名次可以與 finish 作搭配語，把finish當動詞用，如文中的 “to finish in the third place” (可以更簡單的寫成 to finish first/second/third)，或者名詞用，如 second-place finish。
to date (prep phr) 到目前為止
runner up (n) 第二名
be attributed to (v phr) 把...歸因於;把...歸咎於