Palestinian poet and publisher Ashraf Zaghal was in Paris for the “Interludes Poetiques de Palestine.” He writes:
By Ashraf Zaghal
Between September 22 and 26, five Palestinian poets shared the stage at two cultural and literary hubs in Paris, Maison de la Poesie and Institut du Monde Arabe, to read their recent poems and interact with the French audience. The list of participating poets included Ghassan Zaqtan, Rajaa Ghanim, Ashraf Zaghal, Fady Joudah, and Jihad Hudaib. All were invited by the Franco-Palestinian Arab Institute as part of the Institute’s third annual poetry event entitled “Interludes Poetiques de Palestine.” Two of the invited poets, Joudah and Hudaib, could not make it to the event, however their poems were recited and their presence was felt.
The two poetry-reading events, held on September 23 and September 25, incorporated a performance of the French Soprano Elodie Hache with the Palestinian musician and composer Patrick Lama, who wrote the music for two poems written by Ghassan Zaqtan.
The poems that participated in the events were translated by poet and translator Mohamed el Amraoui and recited in French by Phillipe Tanculin, professor of aesthetics at University of Paris VIII, and the French actress Lina Soualem. Most of the poems were extracted from recent collections. The poems included “I Don’t Know the Road to Aleppo” by Ghassan Zaqtan, “Doors of Nostalgia” by Rajaa Ghanim, “A Red Hand” by Ashraf Zaghal, “The Humanitarian Man” by Fady Joudah, and “Impersonal Portrait” by Jihad Hudaib.
As part of the activities surrounding the readings, the poets met the director of the Arab World Institute Jack Lang and the Syrian singer and activist Samih Choukeir. The poets were also interviewed by Radio Monte Carlo, Radio Orient, and France 24.
Ashraf Zaghal was born in Jerusalem in 1974, and has lived in Palestine, the US, and Canada. He has written four poetry collections: Wheels of Ashes, Sleeping as I see, A Desert in the Metro, and A Portrait of the Ugly Family. In 2001, he was awarded the Young Writer’s Award for Poetry by the A.M. Qattan Foundation. He has been translated into French, Hebrew and English, and he is the editor-in-chief of an online literary magazine (www.laghoo.com) which promotes progressive creative writing and taboo-breaking themes.