Friday Finds: ‘The Mediterranean Sea Drowns in the Immigration Department’

It was last November when Ghayath Almadhoun’s acerbic, relentless, loud-talking poetry collection Adrenaline appeared in translation by Catherine Cobham. It was Almadhoun’s first collection to cross into English:

Almadhoun is a Damascus-born Palestinian poet who has lived in Stockholm, Sweden since 2008. He’s published four collections in Arabic and two in Swedish: Asylansökan (Ersatz, 2010) which won the Klas de Vylders Stipendiefond for immigrant writers, and Till Damaskus (Albert Bonniers Förlag, 2014) a collaboration with the Swedish poet Marie Silkeberg.

This collection is a sharp-tongued, passionate, and acerbic, short works that are sometimes just a step away from Zakariya Tamer-esque short stories. There are seven sections, beginning with “Adrenaline,” which opens with “Massacre,” in which “Massacre is a dead metaphor that is eating my friends, eating them without salt. They were poets and have become Reporters With Borders; they were already tired and now they’re even more tired. ‘They cross the bridge at daybreak fleet of foot’ and die with no phone coverage.”

Now, Interim Poetics has published the final work in the collection, “Black Milk,” which calls out to Paul Celan, particularly the “black milk” from Celan’s “Death Fugue,” where Celan disappears among the groups of migrating Syrians.

It opens:

You emerge from behind the scenes, I emerge from behind the nightmares, smiling as if the war hasn’t eaten my brother, and in those days, when my Syrian friends were dying under torture, my European friends were gently withdrawing from my wound which scratched their white lives and didn’t conform in any way to accepted Western criteria of what constitutes pain.

Continue reading on Interim Poetics.