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Gaelle Raphael

Wadih Saadeh: Because of a Cloud, Most Likely

[Wadih Saadeh. Image from Author]

  Because of a Cloud, Most likely Wadih Saadeh Translated by Ghada Mourad   Shadows They moved toward the water descending from their mountains like soft shadows so that as not to awaken the grass. When their shadows passed the fields some parted company and slept there Others clung to rocks, stretched out and returned them to the rocks. They moved until they reached the water exhausted Above them the sun was looking for a needle to reconnect them ...

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An Excerpt from Salam Ibrahim's "The Attic"

[Salam Ibrahim. Image from Salam Ibrahim]

[Salam Ibrahim was born in 1954 in Iraq, and started his political and literary activities early in his life, which caused him to be arrested and detained more than four times between 1970 and 1980, during which he endured physical and psychological torture. He took part in the war with Iran as a reserve soldier, and then deserted and joined the rebels in north Iraq. He moved with the Kurds to the northernmost part of Iran during the al-Anfal campaign in 1988. He sought ...

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Hoda Barakat: Kingdom of this Earth

[The cover of Kingdom of this Earth. Image from]

[With her latest novel, Kingdom of this Earth, Hoda Barakat enriches Lebanese literature with a gem of a novel, and, as other critics have noted, inaugurates a new aesthetics in novelistic writing in Arabic literature. Kingdom of this Earth relates the lives of the people of Bsharri, a small Maronite community in Mount Lebanon, during the period spanning from the beginning of the twentieth century until the eve of the Lebanese Civil War. The readers follow the life of these ...

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Suzanne Alaywan's The Gazelle's Throw

[Suzanne Alaywan. Image from]

[Suzanne Alaywan was born in 1974 to a Lebanese father and an Iraqi mother in Beirut. Because of the war, she spent her childhood years and adolescence between Andalusia, Paris, and Cairo. She graduated in 1997 from the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at the American University of Cairo. She has written thirteen poetry collections. The selection of poems below comes from her latest collection The Gazelle's Throw (2011). Her poetry and paintings are available ...

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Four Poems by Joyce Mansour

[Joyce Mansour. Image from]

[Joyce Mansour (1928-1986) was a Francophone Egyptian poet. She published her first collection in 1953. She moved to Paris and joined the Surrealists and published sixteen books]   Blue Like a Desert   Happy are the solitary ones Those who sow the sky in the avid sand Those who seek the living under the skirts of the wind Those who run panting after an evaporated dream For they are the salt of the earth Happy are the lookouts over the ocean of the ...

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Four Poems by Mohammed Khair-Eddin

[Mohammed Khair-Eddin. Image from Unknown Archive]

Mohammed Khair-Eddine (1941-1995) is considered one of the most compelling Moroccan writers of the twentieth century. Born and raised in the southern Berber Moroccan town of Tafraout, Khair-Eddine moved to France in 1965. In 1979 he returned to Morocco where he lived until his death in Rabat in 1995. Mohammed Khair-Eddine, along with Abdellatif Laabi and other Moroccan poets, founded the review Souffles in which they articulated “a new Maghrebian aesthetics that would ...

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"The Trial" by Saniyya Salih

[Painting by Sabhan Adam (b. 1972, Syria). Image from]

[Saniyya Salih was born in Misyaf, Syria in 1935. She won numerous awards early in her life and published several collections of poems including Narrow Time (1964), The Ink of Execution (1970), and Poems (1980). She died in 1985 following a battle with cancer. She was married to the Syrian poet Muhammad al-Maghut]   The Trial Saniyya Salih   I am the hostage woman Predecessors claim me; so do successors I snatch myself from the mouth of the two voids I ...

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Amal Dunqul "A Special Interview with Noah's Son"

[Amal Dunqil (1940-1983). Image from Unknown Archive]

Noah’s flood is coming nearer! The city is sinking little…by little Birds flee And water rises On the steps of houses Shops The post office Banks Statues (of our immortal ancestors) Temples Wheat sacks Maternity hospitals The prison gate The State House The corridors of fortified barracks. Birds are leaving Slowly… Slowly… Geese on the water float Furniture floats… And a child’s toy… And a gasp of a sad mother Young ...

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Maroun Abboud's "Everlasting Everlasting"

[A Statue of Maroun Abboud in Byblos, Lebanon. Image from Unknown Archive]

It has often been remarked, with a note of frustration, that most of the literature produced in the Arab world and translated into English is characterized by its heavily sorrowful tone. One has to admit that most of the last two centuries has witnessed the invasion of western imperialism in that part of the world and this area has been wrought with wars until our days. These devastating experiences are more likely to produce a literary corpus in which expressions of loss, ...

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Nizar Qabbani's "The Journal of An Arab Executioner"

[A Syrian proteser in Istanbul, April, 29, 2011. Image by Bulent KiliC, from AFP]

The Journal Of An Arab Executioner Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) 1 O people I have become a sultan over you Break your idols after straying, and worship me… I don’t always reveal myself… So sit down on the patience pavement to see me Leave your children with no bread And leave your women with no husband…and follow me Give thanks to God for His grace He has sent me to write History And History is not written without me I am Joseph in ...

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Nizar Qabbani's "Poetry Buses"

[Nizar Qabbani. Image from Unknown Archive]

Nizar Qabbani (1923-1998) was a Syrian poet, essayist, diplomat, and publisher and one of the most popular poets in the Arab world in the last few decades of the 20th century. He was born and raised in Damascus in a middle-class merchant traditional family. At the age of 15, Qabbani’s sister committed suicide because she was unwilling to marry a man she did not love. It is believed that this tragic event incited Qabbani to write poetry that expresses women’s desire and ...

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Al-Shabbi's "The Will to Life"

[Al-Shabbi's Face Carved in Stone in Touzer, Tunisia. Image from Unknown Archive]

Abu Al-Qasim Al-Shabbi The Tunisian poet Abu al-Qasim al-Shabbi (1909-1934) is well known and appreciated throughout the Arab world. His words are committed to memory and reproduced in textbooks. With the recent Arab uprisings, his poems, and more particularly “The Will to Life” and “To the Tyrants of the World,” have witnessed a revival, yet with a whole new tone. It seems that the Arab spring has infused "The Will to Life" with a newly found hope, a new urgency, ...

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Ghada Mourad (Gaelle Raphael) is a PhD student in Comparative Literature and a Schaeffer fellow in literary translation at UC Irvine, working on (post)war literature in the Middle East and North Africa.