New work by Asmaa Azaizeh has appeared as part of the Baffler “Lyric Dispatches” series featuring Palestinian poets, curated by Fady Joudah:
The poem, translated by poet Lena Tuffaha, zigzags beautifully between letting go and clinging to life, between commenting from a distance and passionately caring about humanity’s fate (and the fate of her own poetic voice).
It opens with this wonderful image that ends in an exclamatory surprise:
Yesterday, I handed all my poems to my publisher.
I feel like I handed him my head
and the words I speak from now on
will come out of his mouth.
What a disaster!-Asmaa Azaizeh, tr. Lena Tuffaha
From there, we move to other disasters, to why the poem’s narrator loathes wisdom, and what she might do to get her voice back. She reflects on a way she might get her voice back (and even tells us how these disasters might die out), but anyhow, she suggests, we still won’t hear her.
Read the whole poem on The Baffler.
Azaizeh has published three collections of poetry: Liwa, winner of the 2010 Al Qattan Foundation Debut Writer Award; As The Woman from Lod Bore Me; and Don’t Believe Me If I Talk To You of War.
Do Not Believe Me Were I to Talk to You of War, tr. Yasmine Haj
I Didn’t Believe I Would Ever Learn to Die, tr. Yasmine Haj
A Corpse in Ramallah, tr. Khaled al-Masri
Revival, tr. Khaled al-Masri
The Dance of the Soma, tr. Yasmine Seale