This March, the Scottish StAnza Festival promises a Palestinian Poetry Showcase:
The event is set to take place the afternoon of March 10, and features poets Ghayath Almadhoun and Mustafa Abu Sneineh, along with translators Catherine Cobham and Katharine Halls. Tickets go on sale January 15.
From event organizers:
Translators can be the closest readers, and the relationship between poets and their translators is often a close and crucial one. In this Showcase StAnza, Scotland’s International Poetry Festival, highlights that relationship, with readings in Arabic and English from Swedish/Palestinian poet Ghayath Almadhoun and his translator Catherine Cobham, and Palestinian poet Mustafa Abu Sneineh and his translator Katharine Halls.
Ghayath Almadhoun’s family fled Gaza and he was born in a Syrian refugee camp and lived in Syria before seeking refuge in Sweden. His 2017 collection Adrenalin, translated into English by Catherine Cobham from St Andrews, has attracted international interest.
Mustafa Abu Sneineh is one of the poets featured in A Blade of Grass, a new anthology of poetry from Palestine and the Palestinian diaspora, edited by Naomi Foyle, and published by Smokestack Books in 2017. 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.
Almadhoun — a prominent poet in Arabic, Swedish, and Dutch — saw his first collection in English, Adrenalin, make the 2018 longlist of the Best Translated Book Awards. The collection is sharp-tongued, passionate, and acerbic, short works that are sometimes just a step away from Zakariya Tamer-esque short stories. There are seven sections, the first of 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.”
Abu Sneineh’s first collection — A Black Cloud at the End of the Line — was published in Arabic in 2016. He holds a degree in Law from Birzeit University and works as a journalist.
Read: Interim Poetics published the final work in Almadhoun’s 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.