Lit & Found: Three Poetic Articles by Leila Baalbaki

The theme of the Winter 2023 issue of Kohl magazine is “Anticolonial Feminist Imaginaries,” with work that ranges from speculative literary conversations to translation to theory.

As part of the issue, Maru Pabón translates three of what she calls “poetic articles” by Leila Baalbaki. The articles appeared in the 1973 issue of al-Adab, a special edition called “Our Writers in Battle” reflecting on the October War.

Photo from Leila Baalbaki’s personal collection.

As Pabón writes in her introduction, the magazine’s editor, Suhayl Idris, stated that the war had inaugurated “a new history for the Arab people” and asked writers to respond to how this history was being written. Almost a hundred writers responded; Baalbaki was one of a few women whose responses were included. Pabón calls Baalbaki’s contributions poetic articles, she writes, because their “formal and generic instability offers noteworthy insights into the modes of writing that mediated the sense of living through the “new history” of which Idris wrote.”

One, “I Attended the Birth of Dawn,” opens:

In the beginning was the face––
I dove into a delightful dream.
Suspended in grey space, I no longer tasted dust in my mouth. A drowsy frost settled on my fingertips and toes. No ground below me, no cement nor tiles; I became a cloud.

Read all three articles, in their entirety, at Kohl magazine.