Reminder from Banipal: Emirati Modernist Poetry @ London Lit Fest

Banipal magazine doesn’t want you to forget that they’re dragging three Emirati poets around the U.K. this July, and that, for goodness sake, you should go hear them read.

The poets—Khalid Albudoor, Nujoom Al-Ghanem,  and Khulood Al-Mu’alla—will be taking part in the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Saturday, July 10. And on Wednesday the 14 (at 7:45 p.m. sharp!), they’ll be at the Southbank Centre in London.

According to Banipal, Al-Mu’alla, Al-Ghanem and Albudoor are at the forefront of a modernist movement in the UAE, writing texts that break boundaries of both form and image. The three poets will be reading from their poetry in new English translations commissioned especially for the occasion by Banipal.

Banipal also sent out snippets from the poems to entice Londoners to attend the poetry event. Nujoom Al-Ghanem, they say, writes of a woman and her uncertain future:

Her soul is prepared to ascend.
She wants to leave swiftly
and she wants her body
to fall swiftly into coldness,
but he makes her seem like a liar
to herself, chasing her
like a pirate, wanting her to drown
in the ocean of life,
to drown without dying.

Translation by Khaled Al-Masri, Harvard University

Khalid Albudoor’s poetry focuses particularly, Banipal says, on the development revolution the UAE has undergone. From “This Shore:”

. . . I cannot run with freedom
over the whiteness of the sands
or hide in the shadow of the boats
resting on the shore
awaiting the gulls flapping over my head
There are no longer boats
nor crew
nor birds.

Translation by John Peate, University of Salford

Khulood al-Mu’alla’s poetry—writes Banipal—poetry excels at the poignant vignettes of experience, such as in “Discovery:”

You and I
have been alike for years.
I used to catch myself in you . . .
time was without pulse
the mirror was without reflection.
One night,
A hand sneaked in,
lit a candle
and I discovered that for years
I had been seeing you in the dark.

Translated by Rasheeda Plenty, University of Michigan, and the poet

The magazine also notes that copies of Banipal 38, featuring specially commissioned translations of the poets’ works, signed by the poets, will be on sale. I hope this means I’ll be getting my Banipal 38 sooner than later!

Tickets are £9. Find out more at the Southbank Centre website.