Thinking of Abdelwahab Meddeb…

… the great Tunisian poet, writer, essayist & translator who would have turned 75 today. A good friend for several decades, I learned much from him about the literature & culture of the Maghreb and the wider Arab world. (See my essay on Abdelwahab & his work in my Arabia (Not So) Deserta. And wondering why his book The Malady of Islam, which I co-translated & published back in … Read more Thinking of Abdelwahab Meddeb…

Paul Celan — “Psalm”

60 years ago today Paul Celan wrote the poem “Psalm,” in Paris most likely. Below my translation, the original & the commentary by Barbara Wiedemann & myself (from Memory Rose into Threshold Speech).   PSALM NoOne kneads us again of earth and clay, noOne conjures our dust. Noone. Praised be thou, NoOne. For your sake we want to flower. Toward you. A Nothing we were, we are, we will … Read more Paul Celan — “Psalm”

Happy Birthday Jerry!

Today Jerome Rothenberg, poet, translator, anthologist extraordinaire turns 89! Many, many Happy Returns, my friend! & here, as we come to the end of this year of desolation, a few quotes from your book The Mystery of False Attachments: Eager to break thru language & touch life I crack my head against a mirror * In the way words rhyme or fail to I found my truth * The … Read more Happy Birthday Jerry!

A Poem or something, a gift, a song, for Paul Celan at 100

Her hand giant shadow  — mit Bleistift on ceiling with night reading light pillowed between us — graphites an unseen page, on which I’ll write, standing up in the kitchen,                              the good, no the best thing about night is it is always a pre- dawn.                It goes way … Read more A Poem or something, a gift, a song, for Paul Celan at 100

4 Poems by Paul Celan, with Commentaries

As I am in the process of proofing my final Paul Celan volume of translations — Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry — to be published by FSG in early November, the month Celan turns 100, I thought I’d post a few of the earliest poems that speak to me this morning (which, I guess, allows me to simultaneously alleviate the tediousness of proofing & the … Read more 4 Poems by Paul Celan, with Commentaries

On the 50th Anniversary of Nelly Sachs’ Passing

The great Jewish German-Swedish poet & playwright Nelly Sachs passed on this day, 12 May, 1970. Raised in Germany, the rise of nazism in the thirties terrified her so much that at one point she lost the ability to speak, as she would remember in verse: “When the great terror came/I fell dumb.” In 1940 she escaped with her mother on the last flight from Nazi Germany to Sweden, a week … Read more On the 50th Anniversary of Nelly Sachs’ Passing

Paul Celan: Fifty Years Later: Tenebrae & 5 More

It was exactly 50 years ago, on the night of 19 to 20 April 1970 that Paul Celan left his apartment on the avenue Emile Zola, and succumbed to his psychic demons: the Pont Mirabeau (an actual bridge over the Seine that is also a poem by Apollinaire) is where he decided to put an end to his life by going into the Seine. His body was found further downstream on … Read more Paul Celan: Fifty Years Later: Tenebrae & 5 More

Abdellatif Laâbi’s ” Perishable Poems”

A pleasure right now here in the turmoil of virus to sit down & read through the latest Abdellatif Laâbi collection of poems, excellently translated by Peter Thompson, & published by Dialogos in Nola. As the publisher’s website states, “English speakers can now join Africans and Africa scholars in recognizing Abdellatif Laâbi as Morocco’s preeminent living poet.” I would qualify this by saying “preeminent francophone poet” given the great … Read more Abdellatif Laâbi’s ” Perishable Poems”

In Celebration of Amjad Nasser, a Poet Who ‘Mourns Himself While Still Alive’

Via the always excellent ArabLit came the news this morning of Amjad Nasser’s illness. I met him many years ago, in Paris, & he & his writing were immediately very close to me. It was he who sent me a xerox of the out-of-print English translation of Niffari’s Book of Stations, a sufi concept — the station, the maw’qif — that would become essential to a core aspect of my … Read more In Celebration of Amjad Nasser, a Poet Who ‘Mourns Himself While Still Alive’

Dareen Tatour’s Appeal Partially Accepted: Poem Is Not a Crime

via Arabic Literature and Translation Yesterday’s battle in Nazareth District Court was a victory for artistic expression but not for free speech, when charges against Dareen Tatour’s poem “Resist, My People, Resist Them” were overturned, but those for her Facebook posts were upheld: The ruling came yesterday, May 16, in the district court in Nazareth. Shortly after winning the appeal, Tatour re-posted the poem on Facebook. The ruling came three and half … Read more Dareen Tatour’s Appeal Partially Accepted: Poem Is Not a Crime