Yesterday, poet and translator Khaled Mattawa was on NPR’s “Here & Now,” talking about poetry and translation, and most of all how translation has informed his own work.
The last month has been a tense time in Benghazi. Hundreds have died in the fight for Libya’s second city, and literary hopes — like others — have been put on hold. But Nada Elfeituri still writes, and still holds a candle for the “Young Writers of Benghazi” group.
Wednesday morning, the MacArthur Foundation announced its list of “Genius Grants.” On the list to receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 is Libyan poet and translator Khaled Mattawa, who said he plans to use the money to further his translations and take on larger projects.
As translator Khaled Mattawa wrote, and Etwebi himself posted on Twitter, the Libyan poet’s home has been attacked and occupied by militia on August 25.
Alessandro Spina — the nom de plume of Benghazi-born author Basili Shafik Khouzam — died last year, two weeks before André Naffis-Sahely came to an agreement with a London publisher to translate his epic “The Confines of the Shadow,” which, Naffis-Sahely writes, “belongs alongside panoptic masterpieces like ‘Buddenbrooks,’ ‘The Man Without Qualities’ and ‘The Cairo Trilogy.'”
Libyan poet, translator, and short-story writer Ghazi Gheblawi has been enthusiastically tweeting about Mansour Bushnaf’s “Chewing Gum,” now out in English translation, by Mona Zaki, from Darf Publishers. So, what’s the big deal about “Chewing Gum”?
If there is a single author who should be associated with contemplation of the relationship between humanity and the desert, and the desert and creative writing — post-Ibn Khaldun — it is Libyan novelist Ibrahim al-Koni. He recently spoke with the Louisiana Channel in an interview titled “In the desert we visit death.”
Italian journalist Vittoria Volgare talked with the Libyan short-story writer Omar al-Kikli, whose work has appeared in English translation Banipal and Jadaliyya about al-Kikli’s 2012 prison memoir, Sijniyat, a testament to the years he spent in Ghaddafi’s prisons.
Khaled Mattawa has been elected — along with Arizona poet laureate Alberto Rios — to the Academy of American Poets’ 15-member board.
For years in English, aphorisms were a red-headed stepchild of a genre, practiced seriously only by a few. But with the compression forced by new technologies and social-media software, more writers are writing short. Perhaps by coincidence, a few translations of aphorisms are also appearing.
The Darf publishing house — named for its association with Dar Fergiani — is re-launching this fall with Ahmed Fagih’s “Maps of the Soul.”
It’s good, bad, and complicated in post-Gaddafi Libya. But for the first second-hand book fair since 2011, it certainly sounds good.