Poetry Translation Projects from Arabic, Kurdish Win 2022 NEA Fellowships

Translators working from Arabic and Kurdish were among the two dozen working on a wide range of literary projects selected for 2022 National Endowment for the Arts (US) Literary Translation Fellowships.

Melanie Magidow, in collaboration with translator-poet Mbarek Sryfi, has won one of the fellowships to support the translation of Arabic malhun poetry by six Moroccan poets whose works range from the fifteenth to early twentieth centuries: ‘Abd al’Azīz al-Maghrāwī, al-Jīlālī Mtīrd, Muhuammad bin ‘Alī Wild Arzīn, ‘Abd al-Qādir al-‘Alamī, Thāmī al-Mdaghrī, and al-Makkī bi-l-Gurshī.

Magidow, and Magidow and Sryfi, have previously translated malhun poetry for the SEA (by ‘Abd al-Qādir al-‘Alamī). and FOLK (by al-Makkī bi-l-Gurshī) issues of ArabLit Quarterly. As the NEA page states, malhun is “a genre of sung poetry, produced for consumption both in live performance and in written form.”

Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse, meanwhile, received a fellowship to support the translation of the Kurdish poetry collection I Write Yousif by Hero Kurda (b. 1989). This, the NEA site notes, is the pen name of Hero Husam ad-Din. They note: “In contrast with violent acts by the Islamic State during the book’s publication, the poems in I Write Yousif treat the body with tender specificity rather than shame, torture, and condemnation.”

Poems by Hero Kurda in translation, from World Literature Today:

Three poems, translated by Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse, Pshtewan Kamal Babakir and Shene Mohammed

The poems read aloud, on Soundcloud