To celebrate the publication day of Ramy al-Asheq’s My Heart Became a Bomb, translated by Levi Thompson, three interviews and selected poems:

Interviews

Levi Thompson

Finding a Voice in English for ‘My Heart Became a Bomb’

“So, I might have, in some cases, tried to give a poetic quality to a line in English that brought the content too far away from the original, and Ramy would be there to rein things in some. I think this is, in the end, productive, and it’s a different sort of challenge than I usually face, because most of the poets I engage with in my academic work are dead—my main area of expertise is the early period of the modernist movement in Arabic and Persian, so the 1940s to 1960s in Arabic and 1922-1967 in Persian.”

Ramy al-Asheq

Here Pass the Dogs of Memory

“For me, writing is like masturbation – from the religious point of view, I mean. It is a high dose of pleasure followed by a strong guilt and shame feeling. “

We Need ‘A Place We Can Represent Ourselves’

“And the problem is that a lot of authors follow this way of writing, and they started writing what the Europeans expect and what they want to read. Which is something I really don’t like.”

Poems

‘In the Sea’s Playground’

“In the Sea’s Playground,” is at one and the same time “a hole” and “a solid,” so vast in either case that even “those who know the way do not know where it stops.” 

‘The Dogs of Memory’

We knew the hole that was in the back of the head

would try to swallow up whatever we threw behind us

like a vacuum cleaner