The 2020 Sargon Boulus Award — this year in its third edition — went yesterday to Egyptian poet Emad Abu Saleh:

The prize, which went in its first year to Moroccan poet Mubarak Ouassat and its second to Tunisian poet Adam Fathi, this year moved west to Egypt.

Saleh was born in the Egyptian Delta in 1967, and while he has published a number of collections, he is known for distancing himself from the cultural milieu. Despite that, he is beloved of both poetry readers and critics, who find in his work a deep inquiry into the details of day-to-day existence and a search for the secrets held by common objects.

He was praised by the prize jury for his poetry of “the small concerns” that make up a person’s life now and at all times. His work, the jury said, harks to the poetry of the great Syrian writer Muhammad al-Maghut.

The award is announced each year on the anniversary of the passing of the great Iraqi poet and translator Sargon Boulus, who died in 2007. There is a monetary prize with the award of $3,000.

Two of Emad Abu Saleh’s poems appeared in English translation in Banipal in 2006; his work has also been translated to Spanish, German, Persian, Kurdish, and other languages. He has a book in Spanish, El Elogio del Error, translated by Kamirán Haj Mahmoud. 

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