The National today has a piece about the three Emirati poets participating in the London Literature Festival—Nujoom al Ghanem, Khulood al Mu’alla and Khalid Albudoor—which seemed reason enough for me to explore their work a little more.
Oh, and the event’s today, at 7:45 p.m. (Get your tickets.)
Nujoom al Ghanem (right) is perhaps the most established of the three, having published six volumes of poetry, directed four films, and appeared at numerous literary events. A number of al Ghanem’s poems are available on the website Jehat, along with commentary by Dr. Omnia Amin of Zayed University.
It’s not clear who translated the poems posted there—Dr. Amin?—but al Ghanem seems a little wary of translation.
Of the translations being read at the LLF, she told The National: “I just hope that the meaning of the poem is conveyed. It’s just so hard to convey rhythm and sound, even in the best translations.”
So I am wary of this translation (I climb one stairs?), but:
I tied my bundle
And went out
In the companionship
Of the storm
The houses sunk in front of my eyes, the edges of the earth trembled…
I became like an old tortoise on the face of a rough planet nothing
Between me and the sky except a strong wind and clouds decorated with diamonds.
Suddenly one of the clouds turned into a woman who proceeded towards me
And I ran in search of shelter, I was struck by what resembles love; but she was
Following me from castle to castle, from room to room,
I screamed out don’t come any closer your electricity will strike me,
I left her in one of the rooms sitting like a teacher from the strange
Ages sipping lessons and crying, sipping lessons and the class
Is empty except for benches while I am ill fortuned outside,
I climb one stairs and descend from another in search of a cave.
Khalid Albudoor (center) also has work posted on Jehat.Com. The National describes Albudoor as being “at the forefront of the modernist poetry movement in the UAE.”
Again, it’s unclear who has translated:
Maybe a Cloud
It is a cloud
Over shadowing my heart
Since early morning
The beats are slow and quiet
Blood flows into my veins
As if a clear stream, maybe,
It is only a cloud.
Khulood al Mu’alla (left) is the third Emirati poet at LLF. According to The National, two years ago, Al Mu’alla won the Buland Al-Haidari Award for Young Arab Poets. She has published four collections of poetry.
I haven’t found any translations, but you can read some of her work in Arabic on her website.