Lit & Found: ‘And Yet My Heart’

Egyptian poet, essayist, curator, and novelist Youssef Rakha brought out ولكن قلبي: متنبي الألفية الثالثة (And Yet My Heart: Third Millennium Mutanabbi) earlier this year:

The collection, made up of 20 poems and a personal essay, with illustrations by Walid Taher, was funded by a grant from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture.

Two of the poems appeared bilingually, in Arabic and in Robin Moger’s English translation, in Shenandoah this week. They are “In the ledger buried in my breast” and “Forty-four years to learn.”

Both poems respond to verses by the tenth-century poet Mutanabbi. The first poem begins by quoting “وَكَم مِن جِبالٍ جُبتُ تَشهَدُ أَنَّني ال. جِبالُ وَبَحرٍ شاهِدٍ أَنَّني البَحرُ” and ends: “Who swims the ocean is become as brine. Who climbs the mountain is transformed to air.”

In his newsletter, Rakha also noted that there’s an Instagram hashtag documenting events and responses (in Arabic), and a Soundcloud playlist with five recordings (also in Arabic).

Also, a talk with Rakha about writing the book.