Friday Finds: 5 New Translations of Iman Mersal

A collection of Iman Mersal’s poetry is forthcoming, in Robyn Creswell’s translation. While you wait, five new poems published in The Arkansas International:

The forthcoming collection, currently titled The Threshold after one of Mersal’s signature poems, will bring together work from across her four collections, including her most recent, Until I Give Up the Idea of Houses. It’s currently set for Winter 2022. FSG writes:

Mersal’s poetry is typically concerned with the quotidian world of work, family, and friends. Her verse is psychologically complex—teetering between confessionalism and faux-confessionalism—often ironic in tone, and full of unexpected leaps of logic and imagery. “The thread of the story fell to the ground, so I went on my hands and knees to hunt for it,” one poem begins, turning a figure of speech into a real object, as though language itself might wriggle into life at any moment. It isn’t that Mersal’s poetry avoids politics, but she finds it in unexpected places: not in the public square or at the checkpoint, but rather in the realm of sexual relations, commonplace idioms, and hierarchies of power that are more durable because mostly unacknowledged.

But, since it’s a long time until Winter 2022, you can print out five of Mersal’s poems that appear in The Arkansas International:

Some things escaped me
Respect for Marx
It seems I inherit the dead
Black Fingers
Map Store

Also in the collection is a new poem by Safia Elhillo and other work from around the world.

Related listen:

Classic Bulaq: ‘Love and Silence, Rediscovering Enayat al-Zayyat’