Home, a new bilingual collection of contemporary Arabic poetry, is set for a September release. It features work from nine poets, hailing from eight different countries, with an emphasis on “the minutiae of everyday life—the pain, the pleasure, the uncertainty, the ennui.”
The nine poets, with their translators:
Samer Abu Hawwash (Palestine), translated by Rawad Wehbe
Abu Hawwash was born in Sidon, Lebanon and currently lives in the UAE. He’s published several poetry collections and two novels, and he translates both poetry and prose. Some of his work has been translated to English by Sharif S Elmusa; more recent work has been translated by Huda Fakhreddine.
Iman Mersal (Egypt), two poems translated by Robyn Creswell, four poems translated by Robin Moger
Mersal is one of Egypt’s most anticipated writers; her latest, In Pursuit of Enayat al-Zayyat, was selling out at bookshops all over Cairo. She has two full-length books in English translation: These Are Not Oranges, My Love (tr. Khaled Mattawa) and How to Mend: Motherhood and Its Ghosts (tr. Robin Moger. More of her work is forthcoming, as it should be.
Mohamad Nassereddine (Lebanon), translated by Huda Fakhreddine
Nassereddine is a Lebanese poet and physicist. Seven books of his poetry have been published by Dar al-Nahda al-Arabiyya, and a collection of his poems was recently translated into French. His work also was included in a recent issue of ArabLit Quarterly: The Eye.
Saadiah Mufarreh (Kuwait), translated by Allison Blecker
Mufarreh is a Kuwaiti writer, journalist and poet. Her work can be found in the collection A Taste of Today’s Gulf Literature (available free online), the Scottish Poetry Library, Sultan’s Seal, Jehat, and elsewhere.
Riyad al-Salih al-Hussein (Syria), translated by Rana Issa and Suneela Mubayi
As Ibtihal Mahmood writes in an introduction to poet Riyad al-Salih al-Hussein, “Thirty-five years after his death, at the age of 28, Riyad al-Saleh al-Hussein’s poems remain bold, invincible, and “simple like water, clear like a bullet” — with a breathtaking prophetic trait immersed in blue.” His work has been translated by Mahmood and published on ArabLit.
Ines Abassi (Tunisia), translated by Koen De Cuyper and Hodna Bentali Gharsallah Nuernberg
Abassi is a poet, children’s-book author, translator, and novelist. You can read two of her poems, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, in Words Without Borders.
Ahmed Shafie (Egypt), translated by Hodna Bentali Gharsallah Nuernberg and Ahmed Shafie
Shafie is the author of the collection And Other Poems (2009), the novel The Creator (2013). He is also a celebrated translator. His work can be found on Specimen, Seedings, and Robin Moger’s “Qisas Ukhra.”
Ashjan Hendi (Saudi Arabia), translated by Moneera Al-Ghadeer
Hendi represented Saudi Arabia at the UK’s “Poetry Parnassus” in 2012. The Southbank Centre called her self-translated poem “In Search of the Other” one of the 50 greatest love poems of the last half-century, a list al-Hendi made alongside Iman Mersal and Amjad Nasser. A few translations of her poems have been collected on ArabLit.
Fadhil al-Azzawi (Iraq), translated by William M. Hutchins
Although Iraqi writer Fadhil al-Azzawi is more widely known in English as a novelist (his The Last of the Angels, Cell Block Five, and The Traveler and the Innkeeper have been met with acclaim), al-Azzawi is perhaps better-known in Arabic as a poet. Both are true, as al-Azzawi’s work has moved between poetry and prose. Some of al-Azzawi’s poems appeared in the collection Miracle Maker, translated by Khaled Mattawa. He also did a brief Q&A with ArabLit, “Fadhil al-Azzawi: A Poetry Not in Service of Dictators or Despots.“