Wadih Saadeh Wins Argana Prize: 10 Celebratory Poems

“There’s something in one of Wadih Saadeh‘s poems,” the narrator writes in section 12 of Youssef Rakha’s Crocodiles, translated by Robin Moger:

The judges of this year’s Argana Prize concurred, citing Saadeh’s unique achievements and contribution to “bringing about a change in the path of the Arab prose poem.”

The international prize, given out by Morocco’s House of Poetry, is now in its thirteenth year. Award ceremonies and events will be held in February 2019, at the time of the Casablanca International Book Fair.

Saadeh, born in Shabtin, Lebanon in 1948, moved to Beirut at the age of twelve. In 1973, he self-published his first collection, Evening Has No Brothers, reputedly selling handwritten copies on the streets of Beirut.

After some itinerant years, Saadeh and his family moved to Australia, in search of social justice, and he’s been there since 1988. While his poetry often returns to a Lebanese landscape, it is also relentlessly interested in the possibilities of a future. As he wrote in the preface to his only English-language collection, A Secret Sky (1997): “Poetry is not just an expression of the past, it is an act of creation, a dream of renewal, the only way for me to recreate myself as I would wish to be.”

Ten translations of Saadeh’s poetry:

In Jadaliyya, you can find five poems translated by Sinan Antoon, from Sa’adeh’s collection Who Took the Gaze I Left Behind the Door. 

Robin Moger has translated “Shadows” and “Lilies.”

Two poems: “A Life,” and “Because of a Cloud, Most Likely,” both translated by Ghada Mourad.

Missing Slate published “Hey Allen Ginsberg, I Think That the Fan is Rotating,” translated by Maged Zaher.