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By Saadi Youssef
Winds that do not blow in the evening,and winds that do not blow at dawnhave burdened me with a book of boughs.I see my cry in the silence.Night descends, blue, between staircases and stars. I seeblue…
Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
Departure ’82
By Saadi Youssef
Soonall the rooms will be closed,and beginning with the basement,we will leave themoneby oneuntil we reach the gunson the roof.We will leave them too . . . like the roomsand go onto search in our bloodor…
Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
By Saadi Youssef
We did not name it so that it would become a city.We came to it thirstystarvedlimping on blazing sands,blinded by sun glow.We cut the world from Mecca to the palace of Naaman.We cut the world with a sworduntil…
Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
The Bird’s Last Flight
By Saadi Youssef
When I enter the earth’s nestcontentedand glad,my wings resting,I will free my eyelids so not to seethe trees swaying nearer.Do not cry over me.I said do not cry.If you wish, remember that my wingsare…
Translated from Arabic by Khaled Mattawa
New Year
By Nazik al-Mala’ika
New Year, move on. There is the path / to lead your footsteps.
Translated from Arabic by Rebecca C. Johnson
Waltzing Matilda
By Najem Wali
In war, nothing has meaning except escape or imprisonment.
Translated from Arabic by Marilyn Booth
Homeland as Exile, Exile as Homeland
By Najem Wali
This temporal and spatial here and there are interchangeable according to the power of the artist's passion and perseverance in making his art, as well as his eternal alliance with the higher power that he recognizes and his refusal to bow down to temporary…
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
From “Scattered Crumbs”
By Muhsin al-Ramli
The summer grew hotter and the war more voracious. It brought convoys of flags, medals of honor, and village youths in coffins back to us.
Translated from Arabic by Yasmeen Hanoosh
Valentine Puzzle Purse, Anonymous, British or American, 19th century. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of Mrs. Richard Riddell, 1981.
Love Song for Words
By Nazik al-Mala’ika
Why do we fear words? / If their thorns have once wounded us, / then they have also wrapped their arms around our necks / and shed their sweet scent upon our desires.
Translated from Arabic by Rebecca C. Johnson
A Stranger by the Gulf (1953)
By Badr Shakir as-Sayyab
The wind gasps with the midday heat,         like a nightmare in the late afternoonAnd on the masts, it continues to fold, to spread for departureThe gulf is crowded with them–laborers…
Translated from Arabic by Shareah Taleghani
From “At the Borderline”
By Sherko Fatah
Sherko Fatah writes of smugglers and minefields on the border with Turkey.
Translated from German by Andrea Heyde
Nothing but Iraq (March 29, 2003)
By Mahmoud Darwish
I remember as-Sayyab screaming into the Gulf in vain:Iraq, Iraq. Nothing but Iraq.And nothing but an echo repliesI remember as-Sayyab, in that Sumerian spaceA woman triumphed over the sterility of mistShe…
Translated from Arabic by Shareah Taleghani
From “Outcast”
By Shimon Ballas
How can one explain that which goes beyond logic? In the dream I was asked to read something and I couldn't.
Translated from Hebrew by Ammiel Alcalay
At Home in Exile: An Interview with Shimon Ballas
This interview appeared in slightly different form in Keys to the Garden: New Israeli Writing, edited and translated by Ammiel Alcalay (San Francisco: City Lights, 1996).Ammiel Alcalay: Starting with…
Translated from Hebrew by Ammiel Alcalay