Lit & Found: Four Gastronomic Poems by Kushajim

Salma Harland has translated “Four Gastronomic Poems” by Kushajim for Ancient Exchanges magazine at the University of Iowa, which has run them bilingually.

The poems — on asparagus, mushabbak, khushkanaj, and pomegranates — are presented with a translator’s note and teaching guide, as well as art by ArabLit Quarterly art director Hassân Al Mohtasib.

In her translator’s note, Harland writes:

I have carefully selected the four poems at hand both for their aesthetic grace and sensuous intensity. Each of the four monothematic poems presents hyper-realistic sensory depictions of a particular foodstuff, be it a vegetable (“On Asparagus”), dessert (“On Mushabbak” and “On Khushkanānaj”), or fruit (“On Pomegranates”). In his gastronomic poems, Kushājim not only details the preparation methods and ingredients needed for certain dishes but also the impact that their elegant presentation has on the banquet guests. Mouths water and eager hands cannot keep their distance; even “[a] sedulous ascetic would break his fast / and yield before such a repast.”

Read all four poems on the Ancient Exchanges website.

We also published poetry by Kushajim in the SONG issue of ArabLit Quarterly.