Emtithal Mahmoud's poetry speaks to the horrors of war and genocide, as well as the power of laughter – two messages that she relayed in a powerful Ted Talk.
In the poignant speech, Mahmoud begins by explaining the power and understanding she feels in being heard, and asks the audience "Will you witness me?". She then conveys her story in two short but impactful poems, the first of which she uses to describe the personal, visceral horrors of the war and genocide that she witnessed in Darfur, Sudan.
Deciding she wanted to leave the speech on a more positive, hopeful note, she then spoke of the power of smiling, of laughter and of love – even through the most difficult times. She spoke of her cousin, who suffered from a condition where her heart muscles expanded until they could no longer function. As she passed away, Mahmoud reflected on the tragic paradox of the condition her cousin suffered from – "Isn't it strange that your only problem, is that your heart is too big?."
Encapturing Pain Through Poetry
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