At Jadilayya, Elliott Colla has published an interesting and informative piece about the role of poetry–slogans and more–in the current protests in Egypt, as well as in earlier protests and revolutions in Egyptian history. Colla writes of a feeling that will be familiar to anyone who’s been part of a demonstration, however small or inconsequential compared to what’s happening in Cairo:
Anyone who has ever chanted slogans in a public demonstration has also probably asked herself at some point: why am I doing this? what does shouting accomplish? The question provokes a feeling of embarrassment, the suspicion that the gesture might be rote and thus empty and powerless.
With his article, he makes a case that in Egypt, and especially this time, those words do offer their speakers a form of power.