Two new dream poems have recently appeared in translation, online.
"The beginning, we choose. / But the end chooses us. / And there is no road but the road."
"& I didn’t taste her lips / & company didn’t show until the final day I filled the space that’s for your body / consciously or lost"
"What I mean by this is only in English could I fully inhabit and write from the perspective of a woman. I have no idea why, but I’m sure it’s nothing to do with the nature of English itself as a language."
"If in the classroom you’re able to compare multiple translations of a single work, and/or read essays by translators on their craft, this offers rich and rigorous examples of how choices are made on the level of word, phrase, syntax, diction, metaphor, image, so on. Such examples of precision and multiplicity are ideal for student writers."
Non-fiction is also something writers of [Arabic] fiction and poetry seem to think they can do with their eyes shut.
Over on The Arabophile, poet/novelist/critic Youssef Rakha makes his way through and around two books by the young Lebanese poet Nazem Elsayed, one of the poetic standouts of the Beirut39 group.
This may be the week of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, but the most delightful thing I read this week was Youssef Rakha's "Virtually there," in Al Ahram Weekly. (We'll just blame an editor for the meaningless headline.)
The book is called Kitab Al-Tugra or Book of the Sultan’s Seal, about which Rakha has said: The book is an imaginative evocation of post-2001 Cairo and a secular meditation on the decline of Muslim civilisation; it draws on Ottoman history and the work of the great Cairene historians Ibn Iyas and Al Jabarti. The … Continue reading Images of Cairo in Youssef Rakha’s Upcoming Novel
Poet/journalist Youssef Rakha has a lovely assessment of Ahmad Yamani's work, and his position in contemporary Egyptian poetry, on the occasion of Yamani's new book, Amakin Khati'ah. The piece was published in Al Ahram and re-published on Rakha's blog. The context: More than other “Nineties” prose poets working in standard Arabic, Ahmad Yamani was accused … Continue reading (Poet) Youssef Rakha on (Poet) Ahmad Yamani
I haven't yet gotten my summer issue of Banipal (oh, my beloved Egyptian postal service! what good times we have had together!) but Youssef Rakha has posted his travel essay on his blog. The bus is more than half empty when I get on… An old woman in black scuttles down the aisle to my … Continue reading Youssef Rakha’s Essay in Banipal…
Well, perhaps this one was a bit morbid: The "Five Before You Die" was a feature we ran back in the summer 2010; by now, there are now many more great Arabic books available in translation, but this remains a strong list from translators, authors, critics, and publishers. Shakir Mustafa Although he might not put … Continue reading 5 Arabic Books (in English) to Read ‘Before You Die’