If You’re in London: A Q&A with Palestinian Poets Asma’a Azaizeh and Marwan Makhoul

On Thursday, January 24 at 6:30 p.m. (for a 7 p.m. start), Banipal magazine and The Mosaic Rooms  are inviting Londoners to an evening of “poetry and discussion” with poets Asma’a Azaizeh and Marwan Makhoul:

poetsThe event will be introduced by Banipal editor Samuel Shimon and chaired by Omar al-Qattan. Talks will be followed by a Q&A, reception, and book signing.

Work by both Azaizeh and Makhoul was featured in the most recent Banipal, 45, with work translated (respectively) by Khaled al-Masri and Raphael Cohen. Azaizeh, who also edits the poetry section over at Qaditawon the A M Qattan Foundation’s Young Writer Award in 2010 and had her first collection of poetry, Liwa, published the following year. Banipal 45 features several of her short poems, including “I Don’t Belong To This Light,” “Marriage,” and “Wagner and My Grandmother.” A section continued online hosts two more poems, “A Corpse in Ramallah” and “Revival.”

Makhoul published his first book of poetry, Land of the Sad Passiflora, in 2007, and in 2009 he won the prize of best playwright in the Acre Theatre Festival for his debut theatrical work. He has two longer works in 45, as well as two shorter works online.

Makhoul’s “Daily Poems” ends:

My grandfather told me: Palestine is an irregular verb in the past.
My father said: No, it’s in the present tense.
I say, and a plane has just landed nearby: My grandfather’s right
and my father too.

And from Azaizeh’s “A Corpse in Ramallah”:

Ramallah is arid and I am a fish that must transform its space into a womb.


Who am I now?

Is my foolish old voice turning into a woman?


If only I were a man!

How beautiful it would be, before I go to bed,

to piss on my emotions standing up,


There is no wind here to move my face, so I can smile.

It is the sun that burns my lips.



and Wagner’s ghost

are more merciful than Ramallah

and my ghost.

January is crammed with literary events in London; the highlights:

Palestinian-Dutch poet Ramsey Nasr at various events across the UK (Jan 14-19)

The debut of Omar al-Khairy’s Sour Lips (opening Jan 29)

Syria Speaks: An event with Nihad Sirees, Robin Yassin-Kassib, and Golan Haji (Jan 29)

The launch of Nihad Sirees’s The Silence and the Roar (Jan 30)