Lebanese Poet Inaya Jaber, 1958-2021

Lebanese poet, journalist, artist, and singer Inaya Jaber died Monday evening after a brief struggle with illness, according to news reports:

Jaber, who was born in Beirut in 1958, had a rich career in the arts and journalism. A well-known singer and graduate of the Lebanese National Higher Conservatory of Music, she also worked as a journalist for over twenty years for As-Safir and Al-Quds Al-Arabi, and published nine collections of poetry, her first in 1994.

Continuously working in new genres and styles, in 2016 she published her first collection of short stories, La ahada yudhi’u fi beirut (Nobody Gets Lost in Beirut).

As she grew her writing, she also continued to sing, performing internationally.

Her poems are often intimate portraits of the body and the world of ordinary details, weaving together the objects of daily life with sensuality, as in “My Body Moves Like the Sea,” translated by Anton Shammas, where “Like two eggs spilled/ onto two porcelain plates/ we quiver in our respective solitudes.

The poem opens:

My body, and it’s following your steps,

staggering, drunk

From such a distance you wouldn’t make out

my excellent breathing or the dignity of my lungs

Are distances always like that?

By Jaber, in translation:

Fiction: “I Have the Right to Be a Stranger,” translated by Karen McNeil and Miled Faiza

Poetry: “My Body Moves Like the Sea,” translated by Anton Shammas

Poetry: “Movement,” translated by Camilo-Gomez-Rivas from the collection Still, I’m Busy, (Thumma Innani Mashghula)

In song: