“The novelist vs. the revolutionary: My own Syrian debate,” by Samar Yazbek, trans. Ruth Ahmedzai, from the Washington Post.
I am two women. They stand head to head, at loggerheads.
The revolutionary in me joined what started as peaceful demonstrations against the Syrian government in March 2011.
The novelist in me fled to France that July.
“Bled Dry,” by Abdelilah Hamdouchi, trans. Jonathan Smolin, from Al-Mustanzafun (on Words Without Borders).
The Casablanca night doesn’t really begin until after midnight, but after midnight, anything goes. Nezha was wondering where Hammadi would want to finish off the evening. They left La Falaise at one in the morning and got in the car. Nezha tried to be even more seductive, stroking the side of his head and tickling his crotch.
“Where you taking me, Daddy?” she asked flirtatiously, blowing cigarette smoke at him.
He looked over at her with a lewd, conniving smile and fondled her breasts.
“To hell, God willing,” he said shamelessly. Keep reading.
“Labyrinth,” by Giuma Bukleb, trans. Ghazi Gheblawi (on Imtidad)
The room’s window is open on the day.
The day is open on a sky like a wilderness of ash. Keep reading.
“Brother Hassan and Sheikh Sayyid Qutb,” Hamdy al-Gazzar (on Sampsonia Way)
During summer vacation he accompanied us, along with some of the town’s Brothers, to the Mokattam or Saqqara deserts for a full-day hike of reciting passages from the Qur’an, singing songs, and playing soccer.
Those hikes were delightful for poor children from average families like ours. Keep reading.
“A Life,” by Wadih Saadeh, trans. Ghada Mourad (in Transference)
The poem comes with commentary from Mourad. It begins:
He was, more or less, wasting time
he drew a vase
he drew a flower in the vase
and fragrance emanated from the paper.
He drew a cup of water
took a sip
and watered the flower Keep reading
From “A Song for Mankind,” by Nazik al-Mala’ika, trans. Emily Drumsta (on ArabLit)
The heaped ruins tell stories heard only by shadows and ghosts.
They tell of songs that once floated among these pillars,
through drawing rooms drowning in warmth and dreams.
They remember cries of delight, drunken lines and melodies
plunging into cavernous pleasures
where beauty’s mystery, reckless youth, the temptation of love
lie sleeping— Keep reading
- · [Stars Whirling in the Dark], by Muti‘ ibn Iyas (704–85)
- · [Baghdad’s People], by ‘Ali ibn Zurayq Abu al-Hasan al-Baghdadi (?–1029)
- · [A Qur’an in an Unbeliever’s House], by Abu Muhammad ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Maliki (?–1031)
- · The Books, by Mishil Haddad (1919–96)
- · Mr. Edward Luka’s Profession, by Fadil al-‘Azzawi (1940–)
- · [Happy in Baghdad], by Anwar Sha’ul (1904–84)
- · Salute to Baghdad, by Adonis (1930–)
- · Excerpts from This Is Baghdad…, by Sadiq al-Sa’igh (1938–)
- · A Sorrowful Melody, by Bushra al-Bustani (1950–)