Millennial Angst and the “Quicky” Generation
BEIRUT: In one of Beirut’s trendy coffee shops, sits a woman in sweatpants and a denim jacket. Busying away on her Macbook, observing people subtly, and taking notes. The atmosphere in the coffee shop is inspiring, breading its own philosophy of fast living and quick rendezvous.
This quick quality of life is what Elianne El Amyouni has based her philosophy on and has written poetry about in her debut collection, “Quickies.” Annahar met with El Amyouni to talk about her collection, poetry in the North, and the emerging scene.
With an active Instagram account dedicated to poetry, El Amyouni felt forced to write and post daily. It wasn’t until someone approached her and asked whether she had a book or not that she even considered writing it. Indeed, El Amyouni “didn’t really consider what she was doing as poetry,” but more as “short quotes, ‘quickies’, hence the title of the book”.
With poets like Rupi Kaur, NayyirahWaheed, Warsan Shire, Najwa Zebian, R.M. Drake, and others engaging in the Instagram poetry platform and gaining success, El Amyouni felt inspired and encouraged to self-publish her own collection.
This brings us to Quickies.
The selection of the title “was serendipitous,” explains El Amyouni. She thought about what her poems actually were and was resolved that they were quickies.
“Quickies. I think people are quickies. I think people come and go really fast,” El Amyouni said.
The common threads that link the poems in her collection are those of angst, sexuality, love, and general questioning of how the world is perceived.
The collection is categorized into four parts: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. “In physical, it’s a little bit about self-love and some kind of anger and angst. In mental, it’s just constant questioning thoughts that are trying to be purely rational. Emotional is dealing with love and being with love. Spiritual is spiritual; trying to touch what we can’t really touch,” she said.
El Amyouni’s favorite poem, however, is not categorized. It is set aside in the beginning of the book like a prologue, summing up the purpose of the book:
Can you name
Rising in the twilight
Of your mind?
In other words, who are you? “In the twilight, in the darkness, do you know your shadow? Do you know the dark side of your moon?”
The front cover is El Amyouni’s idea and Michel Matta’s implementation. The inspiration for the photo was Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man; albeit a modernized conception.
“Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man shows you the geometric perfection that is man’s body. This one is a sort of modernized Vitruvian man with the wings being an obvious expression of spirituality. We have this sort of longing to let our wings out, we don’t need to hinder them; this is us,” she noted.
Furthermore, she highlighted this generation’s ways of self-expression, and that the sons and daughters of the present times “are trying to express themselves more comfortably in terms of sexuality, religion, or politics.”
As a budding poet herself, El Amyouni focuses on boldness and courage; the two being some of the most important traits of a writer.
“Do it, you have nothing to lose. It’s important to have no sensor on what it is you want to say at first, and then to edit it. But when editing, don’t be afraid to leave the things you think are too controversial or too much,” she said.
She then added that “no one has a gun to your head. That’s it, go for it.”
This is the advice El Amyouni gives herself. As an active member of the poetry scene in Lebanon and specifically in the North, she has witnessed a decentralized poetry movement away from Beirut. Giving birth to all of this is Eddy Aziz, a student at Balamand, and the president of UOB Inklings. About a year and a half ago, he started organizing these events, at the same time simultaneously, Warshe 13 was starting up.
They started organizing these spoken word nights, and since then, there have been workshops at the university for highschool students on how to write poetry and plays. Workshops have been organized primarily for creative writing and poetry writing on a weekly basis.
“There are so many voices in the North that aren’t being heard because there isn’t a place for them to say what they want to say, and you can’t always come down to Beirut,” she said.
Quickies is available at Virgin Megastore, Aaliya’s Books, Antoine, Maleks, and will soon be available on amazon.
You can catch El Amyouni reading from the book and signing at Warshe 13 at Aaliya’s Books on May 24th. This event is a spoken word night that will feature an array of poets debuting their work.
Elianne El Amyouni is a 25-year-old bicultural individual, “stuck in the cultural limbo between Canada and Lebanon”. With an MA in English Literature with a focus on Alchemical and Archetypical Symbolism in Gebran Khalil Gebran, she plans on pursuing a PhD in The University of Waterloo.