Iraqi poet and scholar Ghareeb Iskander lives and writes in London:
By Ghareeb Iskander
Translated by Salma Harland
In translating Derek Walcott,
Like egrets do
In his later poems,
Where he wanted
To speak of regret
But was overshadowed with delight
In a frenzy “like a shallop with a staved-in hull.”
This time I had no need
For Ezra Pound’s “betrayals,”
Where ashes become trees
And rivers a silent abyss,
No magic of transfiguration
But the rites of poetry
And of translation
Found in the covert dictionaries
Of light and half-light.
This is the way the blind flood
Becomes a contemplating cane;
The golden apple dissolves
Into a spiraling echo.
Words yet to be written disappear,
But letters endure,
Like a primordial fire.
Here is the great perplexity.
Together we encounter what is born
And what shall die.
We cross the dream
Along the reaches of the night.
Like an open book without end
Is this cosmic tree
Is but one poem.
Ghareeb Iskander is an Iraqi poet living in London. He published serval books including A Chariot of Illusion (Exiled Writers Ink, London 2009); Gilgamesh’s Snake and Other Poems, a bilingual collection, which won Arkansas University’s Arabic Translation Award for 2015 (Syracuse University Press, New York 2016); English Poetry and Modern Arabic Verse: Translation and Modernity (I. B. Tauris, London 2021). He was the featured writer of Scottish Pen in 2014. Ghareeb received his PhD from SOAS, University of London in comparative literature with an emphasis on literary translation.
Salma Harland is an Egyptian-born, UK-based translator and academic researcher. She holds an M.A. in Literature and Philosophy from the University of Sussex, a PGCert in Translation and Interpreting from the American University in Cairo, and a BA in Translation from October 6 University. She was also a recipient of the Chancellor’s Postgraduate International Scholarship from the University of Sussex and two Academic Excellence Scholarships from October 6 University. Her literary translations (from and into English and Arabic) have appeared or are forthcoming in ArabLit Quarterly, Jadaliyya, Banipal, Eurolitkrant, Romman Magazine, Turjoman, and Egyptian Researchers.
“Song of Myself,” tr. Hassan Abdulrazzak
“A Letter to Adil,” tr. Abdulrazzak
Ghareeb Iskander on Iraqi Poetries and the ‘Third Language’ of Translation
Reading T.S. Eliot in Arabic: A Talk with Ghareeb Iskander
Af’a Gilgamesh / Gilgamesh’s Snake (excerpt) by Ghareeb Iskander