On Translation, Poetry

The Politics of Translating al-Shabbi’s ‘If the People Choose to Live One Day’

It’s fascinating how the poem shifts tremendously on the decision of whether to translate الشعب as “a people/the people,” which makes them a collective, or as “people,” thus turning them into individuals.

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The Difficulties of Translating Tunisian Poet Abu al-Qassim al-Shabbi

Translations of work by Tunisian poet Abu al-Qassim al-Shabbi (أبو القاسم الشابي) continue to make their way around the Internet, mostly as a symbol of hope and change, less so as renewed interest in the poet himself. Many of these translations are repeats of the anonymous Wikipedia version of “To the Tyrants of the World” or of As’ad Abu Khalil’s rendition of the poem he titles “The Will of Life.” But there have been other attempts as well.

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