Morgana Mirage becomes real in Arabian Nights, World Poets Anthology

Meg Smith

Meg Smith

By Ashraf Aboul-Yazid
Asia Journalists Association President

CAIRO: In one of Arabian Night’s tales, entitled “The Forty Thieves”, there were two brothers; Cassem and Ali Baba. They lived in a town in Persia. Cassim was married to a rich wife and lived in plenty, while Ali Baba had to maintain his wife and children by cutting wood in a neighboring forest and selling it in the town.

One day, when Ali Baba was in the forest, he saw a troop of men on horseback, coming toward him in a cloud of dust. He was afraid they were robbers, and climbed into a tree for safety. When they came up to him and dismounted, he counted forty of them. They unbridled their horses and tied them to trees.

The finest man among them, whom Ali Baba took to be their captain, went a little way among some bushes, and said, “Open, Sesame!” so plainly that Ali Baba heard him. A door opened in the rocks, and having made the troop go in, he followed them, and the door shut again of itself. They stayed some time inside, and Ali Baba, fearing they might come out and catch him, was forced to sit patiently in the tree. At last the door opened again, and the Forty Thieves came out. As the Captain went in last he came out first, and made them all pass by him; he then closed the door, saying, “Shut, Sesame!”

Ali Baba climbed down and went to the door concealed among the bushes, and said, “Open, Sesame!” and it flew open.

Ali Baba, who expected a dull, dismal place, was greatly surprised to find it large and well lighted, hollowed by the hand of man in the form of a vault, which received the light from an opening in the ceiling. He saw rich bales of merchandise — silk, stuff-brocades, all piled together, and gold and silver in heaps, and money in leather purses. He went in and the door shut behind him. He did not look at the silver, but brought out as many bags of gold as he thought his asses, which were browsing outside, could carry, loaded them with the bags, and hid it all with fagots.

Using the words, “Shut, Sesame!” he closed the door and went home. After many sub stories, we meet Morgiana (Morganain in Arabic), and the forty thieves she could defeat.

However, to my surprise, Morgiana left the story to be real! The most recent poetess who joined Arabian Nights, World Poets’ Anthology, issued next year by World Poetry Movement (Egypt) and the Silk Road Literature Series, used to perform Morgiana on stage!


The previous contributors were poets who acted as teachers and students, doctors and professors, novelists and songwriters, but Meg Smith added a new career of her own. Let me copy from her letter of submission:

“Dear Ashraf Aboul-Yazid (Ashraf-Dali),

Salaam alaikum,

Will you please consider this poem, “Night Crossing on The Nile,” for inclusion in The Silk Road Literature Anthology 2022?

I am a journalist and Oriental dancer based in Lowell, Mass., USA. This poem is inspired by my first visit to Egypt, in March 2006. For part of that visit, we traveled on a cruise along the Nile River; this poem is specifically about a night on deck, listening to the silence, under the moon.

I’ve included a photo and below is a brief bio.

Thank you so much for considering my poem, and looking forward to hearing from you, inshallah. All my best, Meg Smith”

Meg’s poem entitled “Night Crossing on The Nile” sends its readers to one of 1001 Nights:

“The waters are given to silence,

in this space between suns.

I am whispering my prayers into

the breezes from Thebes,

to Edfu, Kom Ombo,

and Aswan,

in gods of cities

and human dreams.


They will all follow me

into waking, and summon me

in my dance, movement

on the surface, of shadow, and light.”


In her author’s bio she wrote:

“Meg Smith is a poet, journalist, dancer and events producer based in Lowell, Mass., USA. She is a first-generation Irish-American.

Recently, her poetry and fiction have appeared in Muddy River Poetry Review, The Cafe Review, Sirens Call eZine, Raven Cage, Poetry Bay, and many more.

She is a professional Oriental dancer of 26 years, with the performance name of Morgana Mirage. She served from 2003 to 2016 as associate editor of Belly Dance New England magazine. She was also a staff writer and columnist for Jareeda, the magazine of Middle Eastern dance.

She has studied Arabic and traveled to Egypt and Turkey, including a four-week visit to Egypt as part of the Rotary International Group Study Exchange.

Her journalism awards include a first place award and second place award from the New England Newspaper and Press Association, for her coverage of the Islamic community in the greater Boston area.

Among her most recent coverage is the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11, and its impact on the region’s Muslim Americans. She continues to follow news developments of the Middle East and Islamic world, as well as reading histories, first-person memoirs, poetry, and novels.

She is author of five poetry books, and a short fiction collection, The Plague Confessor. She welcomes visits to”

Meg Smith joined almost a 100 poets from 52 countries.  Arabian Nights is a literary work that inspired the world’s creators, whether they were poets, novelists, painters, or film, theater makers and music composers. It is a world that mixes history and legend, a space to travel between illusion and reality.

Ashraf Aboul-Yazid wrote his call four weeks ago, wondering: “Have you read the Nights, or just some of its tales? Have you thought about expressing your admiration or discontent with them?

Have you thought of writing a poem about Arabian Nights; characters, heroes, narrator, and the paths of their women and men… Be Scheherazade or Dunyazad, act as Shahryar or Shah Zaman, do as Aladdin or Ali Baba, and create your own poetic nights….”

This is the theme for the new issue of the Silk Road Literature Series Anthology.

Poets presented in its first issue (Asia Sings), they excelled in the second issue (Mediterranean Waves), and shined in the third issue (Ancient Egyptians, Modern Poets).

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