Smokestack Books is currently crowdfunding — through October 15 — for their forthcoming anthology A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry. Those pledging £20 or more will receive a copy of the book:
By crowdfunding, the press seeks to raise money to help pay contributors’ fees and printing costs, as well as to donate to the legal campaigns of imprisoned poets Ashraf Fayadh and Dareen Tatour.
The title of the collection comes from a Mahmoud Darwish quote: “Against barbarity, poetry can resist only by cultivating an attachment to human frailty, like a blade of grass growing on a wall as armies march by.”
A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry will be a facing-page, meet-in-the-middle collection that brings together, in English and Arabic, new work by poets from historic Palestine and the diaspora, including work by Marwan Makhoul, Maya Abu Al-Hayyat, Fatena Al-Gharra, Dareen Tatour, Ashraf Fayadh, Fady Joudah, Naomi Shihab Nye, Deema K. Shehabi, Mustafa Abu Sneineh, Farid Bitar, Shahid NWA, Sara Saleh and Mahmoud Darwish.
According to poet and editor Naomi Foyle, the collection includes: “Voices fresh and seasoned converse with history, sing to the land, and courageously nurture an attachment to human fragility. Written in free verse and innovative forms, hip hop rhythms and the Arabic lyric tradition, these poems bear witness both to catastrophe, and to the powerful determination to survive it.”
Smokestack Books is a small independent press, and the book is partially funded by a research grant from the University of Chichester. The grant has allowed Smokestack to pay a small contributors’ fee of £10 a page, but the crowdfunding campaign seeks to “increase this fee to a more professional rate; to cover design and printing costs for the book; and to raise money toward the legal fees of Ashraf Fayadh and Dareen Tatour, both currently imprisoned, respectively in Saudi Arabia and Israel, on charges related to their poetry.”
Contributing translators and translation-editors include Josh Calvo, Raphael Cohen, Katharine Halls, Sarah Maguire, Anna Murison, Tariq Al-Haydar, Andrew Leber, Waleed Al-Bazoon, Wejdan Shamala.