This week, ArabLit talked to Iraqi poet and publisher Faiza Sultan about her magazine and newly launched publishing house, Dar Safi, which is based in the US’s Pacific Northwest. Dar Safi promises to focus on literatures in English, Arabic, and Kurdish:
“Dar Safi’s main mission,” Sultan said, “is to translate books from the Middle East and North Africa into English and publish them in the USA.” The new publishing house is linked to the Dar Safi online magazine, which runs work in Arabic, Kurdish, and English, including poetry and short stories.
Sultan said that founding the publishing house is “an attempt to facilitate communication between creative Arab and Kurdish people and thinkers on the one hand and Western creative people and thinkers on the other”.
The publishing house takes its name from the Sufi Kurdish poet Safi Hirani (1873-1943), who wrote in the Kurdish, Arabic, Turkish and Farsi, and reflects the house’s vision of love and tolerance. Sultan’s publishing plan is ambitious:
“Our plan for the first year is to publish 15 books,” she said. They also aim to “establish our first paper magazine by the end of 2014, with the name of روح ( “Soul”).”
The house has already signed several authors, but is “always in search of the Arabic or Kurdish book that will be a best seller on the American market.”
I believe that the Iraqi poet Salah Fayik is an exceptional poet, not just an Iraqi poet, and not just in Iraq, but globally. His poems have their own characteristics that you would never find in others. A selection of his poetry will published in English by Dar Safi, plus 7 of his Arabic collections [will be brought together] in one book. Dar Safi will publish selected poems of the great Kurdish poet Shirko Bekas that have been translated into Arabic; he just passed away less than a month ago.
Sultan did not agree with poet Fadhil al-Azzawi’s feeling that “there is no real poetry to be discovered by those who stayed in Iraq.” She said that Iraq-based poets have not had their chance to be recognized, and Dar Safi “will try to present some of these poets through translating their poems in our monthly electronic magazine.”
However, Sultan added, “I cannot say that there is a new poetic movement in Iraq. On the contrary, there is a movement against modern poems among some Iraqi poets.”