10 Translated Poems by Fawzi Karim (1945-2019)

Last week in The Guardian, English poet Anthony Howell wrote a remembrance for Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim, who died this past May:


A book of Karim’s poems adapted to English, Incomprehensible Lesson: In Versions by Anthony Howell, was published shortly before his death.

Karim wrote more than 20 books of poetry, a novel, and some 15 works of art and music criticism. Born in Baghdad in 1945, Karim studied at Baghdad University, lived in Lebanon from 1969-1972, and then moved to London since 1978, where he lived until his death.

Carcanet published his first collection in English, Plague Lands and Other Poems which was published in translation in 2011, a collaboration between Anthony Howell and Abbas Kadhim.

In his remembrance of Karim, Howell writes:

Incomprehensible Lesson (2019), the second Carcanet selection of his work, describes his gradual acclimatisation to his refuge in Greenford, west London, while still possessed by the experiences of the past. The British poet James Kirkup wrote of Fawzi: “Karim is a poet for our times, with his strong yet beautiful voice, his indignation … and the haunting memories of certain lines that seem intended for all of us, but that few can hear in the endless tumult of what is called life.”

Ten poems:

The Scent of Berries, tr. Rebecca Johnson

Reader in the Dark, tr. Rebecca Johnson

On the Highest Peak, tr. Karim and Howell

Paradise of Fools, tr. Karim and Howell

Faust in Casablanca, tr. Karim and Howell

The Forgotten City, tr. Howell and Kadhim

The Night Drives Its Nails, tr. Howell and Kadhim

Seeing And Calling, tr. Howell and Kadhim

Night’s Scavengers, tr. Howell and Kadhim

When Exile Took Us By Surprise, tr. Howell and Kadhim


Howell’s homage to his friend Fawzi Karim, “Empyrean Suite.”