"Perhaps you think poetry / is a waste of time, for eternity can't be rendered in languages / and death after death / has a different name."
"If I were a cat / I would was my skin with my tongue / like this / your scent passing from my skin to my mouth, so I'd think I'd devoured you"
For those who might have missed some of our 2020 Women in Translation Month (#WiTMonth) coverage, a look back.
"I am very disciplined. I wake up early every morning and begin work on my own novels and poems. Then I take care of my cats and others' work."
Yet the thing that translates so easily about al-Khansa is her self-belief. It is quite easy for any of us in 2020 to imagine a woman poet being praised in such a meager way, "Not bad for someone with boobs." And responding with a sharp-tongued jab at a man's nether regions.
The Frightened Ones was shortlisted for the 2018 International Prize for Arabic Fiction; its English translation came out in the UK in April and was published in the US last week.
"Beirut / I dreamed you were invaded / and awoke to the noise of destruction"
"There is very little Arabic poetry by women translated to English; for Women in Translation Month (#WiTMonth), we offer a brief look at ten poets. Of the women writers listed -- an eclectic list of personal favorites and by no means canon -- only one, Iman Mersal, has a collection traditionally published in English translation"
In this psychologically astute, page-turning novel, the reader must root for Camelia. But they also can't help but understand the other characters, too.