Friday Finds: Adania Shibli, Haytham el-Wardany, and Sinan Antoon in ‘Specimen’

Specimen magazine’s “Dossier 15” — “The Return of Imagination” — was edited by Adania Shibli and Mika Buljević:

Shibli and Buljević write, in their introduction:

“The [readers] have lost the capacity to imagine, to rely on the word, on language, and its immense possibilities that are less and less recognized and [are more and more] abused.” In these words, writer Dasa Drndic summarized our present in 2017, where “history is repeating itself,” and “its monstrous face is surfacing.” Indeed “throughout history”, Drndic already noted in 2012, in her Belladonna, “people have often gouged out each other’s eyes, and they still do, only in secret.”

Assuming that words’ eyes have also been gouged, this dossier asks: How can literature assist us in reclaiming the capacity to imagine a less monstrous form of togetherness today? How can literature, and art in general, outline methods that can help in preventing history’s monstrous face from surfacing? 

The dossier includes Haytham el-Wardany’s “خرافات حقيقية,” translated to English by Nariman Youssef as “True Fables.” It begins:

.يُحكى أن ولاعة سجائر تكلمت ذات يوم. قالت: “أنا النار، وأنتم القتلة”، ولم يصدقها أحد

The story goes that one day a cigarette lighter spoke. “I am the fire, and you are the murderers,” it said. But nobody listened.

It also includes “I, Anarchist,” written in Bosnian by Damir Avdić, and translated to English and Italian, and “As They Drew the Lines of Nation States,” written in English by Priya Basil and Sinan Antoon, and also available in Italian.

In the English, it opens:

P: Some warn, I’m headed from “nowhere to nowhere”. Others insist I’m all it takes to make nowhere somewhere. I’m a line – the oldest way of marking yours and mine. Or making yours mine.

S: Who is this?

P: Good question. Let me start.

Read the whole dossier at Specimen Press.