Monday 17 April 2023


 I recently stopped my Twitter account and, like many others, moved to Mastodon, and the first poet I encountered there was Yahia Lababidi. What a delight! What a calm voice of reason. What an excellent poet. I am going to let Yahia speak for himself. Enjoy!

Tell us about the new collection

I have two collections that I’m proud of, Irish twins, conceived around 9 months apart.

Desert Songs is my love letter to the deserts of Egypt, featuring transporting images by Moroccan photographer, Zakaria Wakrim, as well as Learning to Pray, a collection of my spiritual meditations.

Also, an even more recent passion project that I hope will interest your readers: I’ve partnered on a subscription service with a clever programmer and lover of wisdom literature, Sam Henry, to deliver daily contemplative quotes from my books. You can learn more and sign up, here.

What next?

In the upcoming months, Quarantine Notes (Fomite Press, 2023) This is a collection of a few hundred of my new aphorisms composed during our global pandemic. Political, cultural and spiritual meditations that got me through the strange lifetime that was the last three years.

Music, poetry or film? Which speaks the most to you?

It’s a close call between music and poetry (much as I appreciate films & enjoy reviewing them: Yahia Lababidi | World Literature Today) There’s no denying the wordless power of music, how it can cut straight to the heart and transport us. But, for better or worse, I’m a word guy; besides, poetry has built in music and reels of film in it, too!

What do you want your poetry to do?/what do you want to evoke in the reader/listener?

Many things. Entertain, educate, return us to ourselves, remind of deeper realities and what is indestructible. Poetry can do this by slowing us down to a stillness, getting us to inhabit the moment, and meditate on essences. Ultimately, poetry as praise and prayer.

What’s the typical career path of a poet?

I’m nearly 50 (in six months) and still trying to figure that out! If you/readers have any tips, please, reach out. Here’s my resume: Yahia Lababidi | LinkedIn

How has the poetry business/scene changed over your life time?

Off the top of my head, I think of social media, which seems like licensed eavesdropping. On one hand, it can steal from our precious inwardness and force us, at times, to share fruit that is unripe or interact in ways that might do violence to our nature. The irony of a private person in a public profession. The flip side of this, of course, is the ability to reach a wider audience, hear from your readers (almost, instantaneously, like telepathy!) as well as reach publishers / outlets in ways that were inconceivable when I started 3 decades ago.

If you could become a character in fiction, or film who would you be and why?

As a very young man, I admired superheroes (like Spiderman). Becoming a teenager, this adulation shifted to pop stars and shortly, after, poets and philosophers. Now, it’s mostly mystics and visionaries that I hold in high regard. Not sure this answers your question, but there you have it 😊

Given the state of society at this point in time what is the role of the poet?

To amplify the Light, so as to counter the prevalent cynicism, despair and nihilism.

How has your work changed over time?

I began as someone who, foolishly, worshipped at the altar of the mind (recovering Existentialist). Now, I bow before the life of the Spirit and its countless mysteries…

How far does real life creep into your work?

What is ‘real life’? The ephemeral world of politics? The nonsense that passes for reality tv? I don’t know. I believe in the vital role of the artist as witness, conscience and activist. But, I also know that one cannot sound off on everything, all the time — poorly-digested ‘real life’ as you call it, makes for bad art.

Name something you love and why?

Beauty. I believe that aesthetics and ethics are connected. If we abide by the laws of Beauty — in thought, word and deed — we stand to lead a life that it good and true.

What would be your dream project?

I would like to write a children’s book and am exploring this possibility, using new technologies like ChatGPT! (If you can’t beat them, join them 😊)

How do you navigate the poetry world?

Gingerly. I’m still very much trapped in the past and wary of taking in too much of what is current, without taste or discernment. That said, I recognize I cannot afford to, entirely, turn my back on what’s happening Now and am pleasantly surprised from time to time.

You can listen to my readings of some poems that matter to me, on Soundcloud.

If you were not a poet what would you be?

Possibly, not alive.

Have you ever doubted your talent?


Thank you


  1. Excellent. I very much enjoyed this.

    1. Thank you, James, for your attention & encouragement :)