Sarah Riggs & JĂ©rĂ©my Victor Robert have generously shared a selection from their translation of Olivia Elias’ Your Name, Palestine (Ton nom de Palestine), forthcoming in English as a chapbook:

Olivia Elias was born in Haifa, then lived as a refugee in Beirut, where her family moved after being forced into exile. She attended university in Canada before moving to France in the early 1980s. Although Elias has been a writer for some time, it was only recently she decided to publish.

She is author of the following collections: Je suis de cette bande de sable (May 2013, out of print), L’espoir pour seule protection (introduction by Philippe Tancelin, éditions alfabarre, February 2015), Ton nom de Palestine (éditions al Manar, January 2017) and Chaos, Traversée (La feuille de thé éditeur, 2019). Translated into several languages, her poems appeared in many journals, including: Apulée, Alaraby UK, Inochi no Kago, The Barcelona Review, The Adirondack Review, Poetry London, Recours au poème, and Terre à Ciel.

Your Name, Palestine is forthcoming in English in Sarah Riggs’ & JĂ©rĂ©my Victor Robert’s co-translation. Chaos, Crossing, & Other Poems, translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid, will also be published in 2022 by World Poetry Books.

They write, to introduce the work:

Far from home, a voice remembers, however painfully, the country she had to leave. From the primordial enlightenments of childhood to the dreadful realizations of her teenage years, the poet sings an ode to the blazing beauty of Palestine. Olivia Elias draws from the “heart and the wind playing between high hills and deserts” the strength, and determination, to question the doom that came to her hometown. With the help of the musicians and instruments, she redefines the notion of nation, and the sense of belonging, be it to a country or a memory. In a precise, uncompromising tone, she commends a “people that knocks/relentlessly on the doors of the future/a country pushed into the margins of history.” Her mouth,” as Aimé Césaire once beautifully put it, is “the mouth of misfortunes that have no mouth,” her voice the voice of those who fight for their rightful place on earth.

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Sarah Riggs is a writer and artist, born in New York, where she is now based, after having spent over a decade in Paris. She is the author of books of poetry in English, including The Nerve Epistle (Fall of 2021), Eavesdrop (Chax, 2020), Waterwork (Chax, 2007), Chain of Minuscule Decisions in the Form of a Feeling (Reality Street, 2007), Sixty Textos (Ugly Duckling, 2010), Autobiography of Envelopes (Burning Deck, 2012), Pomme & Granite (1913 Press, 2015) which won a 1913 Poetry Prize. She has translated six books of contemporary French poetry into English, including, most recently, Etel Adnan’s TIME, which won the Griffin International Poetry Prize and the Best Translated Book Award in 2020. She is the director of the international arts organization Tamaas (tamaas.org), which focuses on earth arts justice, film, and an annual poetry translation seminar. 

A translator of English and a poet, JĂ©rĂ©my Robert works and lives in RĂ©union Island. Recent translations include: Sarah Riggs’ Murmurations (Apic, “Poèmes du monde,” 2021), Donna Stonecipher’s Model City (joca seria, 2020), Michael Palmer’s Laughter of the Sphinx, and Etel Adnan’s Sea & Fog (L’Attente, 2015).

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