Shall I tell you about the Stars?

Sharif Ezzat’s collection of anecdotal poems titled “Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky” has already been presented twice on this blog, but I believe it deserves an even closer look than those presented earlier.

“Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky” was created almost a decade ago in 2006, and is often praised for its simplistic beauty. It’s a Flash hypertext grouping of poems, which manifest as stars against a black sky. What makes “Like Stars in a Clear Night Sky” so appealing are its interesting subjects for the poems it covers.

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Four of the poems relate directly to people in the narrator’s life: his cousin, uncle, sister, and lover. Three poems focus on the earth, water, and sky, and the remaining two poems are written about a single boy and then the world as a whole. While some may consider these varying topics to be loosely connected (if at all), however, Ezzat is insistent that these poems are a family.

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The most telling of these poems is probably the poem about the stars. It is introduced by asking if the reader would like to know why the stars “respond so slowly”. It then continues to tell a story about how the stars used to be very close together, but then began to explore the abyss around them. This is a metaphorical parallel to nearly all the other poems. The poems about the narrator’s family all deal with this idea of disregarding family for love, leading to rather unhappy endings as the characters they focus on are left to themselves. The land and water poems deal with the idea of humans migrating out of the natural and in to the man-made.

By inserting this poem about the stars into the rest, it relates to both a singular person, moving away from their family in order to explore, as well as the earth as a whole, moving away from nature. It also brings the collection together, discussing the stars that are twinkling on the page around the poem.

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In the same sense, the poem about the world “determined to become my family” works as a contrast to these poems. It is a rather short poem, but it talks about people showing up at this narrator’s house for various reasons, and him happily letting them in. While the stars poem broke everything apart, the world poem brings everything back together. While it isn’t the last poem introduced in the narrated introduction, I chose to read it last. Family seemed to be the main focus of these poems, and this coming together into a universal family seemed to be the most fitting ending for the collection.

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