Al-Arrayed: focus must be on women's mind over her body
“A man is a woman’s partner. Like she, he is required to evolve and accept [differences] so that they can, together, build a giving society on comradeship, not on the perception of women as physical beings,” said poet Thuraya Al-Arrayed.
At the 11th Arab Poetry Spring Festival, organized by the Abdulaziz Saud Al-Babtain Cultural Foundation at the theater of Al-Babtain Central Library in Kuwait, Al-Arrayed shared strong views on gender dynamics and the role of women. The societal perception of women should move toward a deeper, abstract level, she said, all the while taking into account gender differences. “Be they men or women, we must start by bringing up individuals to be effective and active members of the society. It begins with education,” Al-Arrayed asserted.
Poetry, she said, is like “painting with words”. Al-Arrayed was raised in a household deep-rooted in arts. The daughter of a poet, the late father Ibrahim Al-Arrayed, she found refuge and her path to knowledge in reading.
She was born a poet. Poetry lent her a voice to express her feelings, and her writings, an outlet to express her mind. For Al-Arrayed, a poem is not about the skill of composition, but rather, the embodiment of an idea. No matter how embellished, any text that is void of personal reflections and feelings is not poetry, she said.
She describes her relationship with poetry as such: "It is as if there is another me inside of me who wants to provoke me with her questions, urging me to understand and reach an answer." Al-Arrayed has written hundreds of poems, but those she published are few and far between. She did not want her work to be ambushed.
Al-Arrayed has also published several books, including “Crossing the Desert Alone”, “A Woman without a Name", and her latest, released in 1998, "Where's the Way of the Tree?" . Her work was translated into a number of foreign languages, including English, French, German and Italian. Several poetry evenings were also held to showcase her work in a number of Arab and foreign countries.
On her being both a poet and a member of the Saudi Shura Council (the Consultative Assembly of Saudi Arabia), Al-Arrayed maintains that there is no contradiction in this duality. “I did not stop writing poetry, but I did not publish it,” she said. Al-Arrayed joined the Saudi Shura Council from January 11, 2013 until 2017.
Al-Arrayed is highly engaged in women's issues, and their role as social and developmental change agents. Her own role has involved her in top-level policymaking and developmental plans. To this end, she has participated in many Arab and regional conferences, at which she shared aspirations and strongly worded views for women to play a positive leading role both locally and internationally.
Al- Al-Arrayed’s body of work has resonated with many intellectuals and thinkers, who have previously organized a festival to pay tribute to the acclaimed poet’s journey and history.