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Sinan Antoon سنان انطون


Al-Sayyab: Two Poems

[Al-Sayyab's Statue in Basrah. Image from Wikipedia]

[Badr Shakir al-Sayyab (1926-1964), one of Iraq’s most important modern poets and a pioneer of modern Arabic poetry, died fifty years ago today.] Two Poems Badr Shakir al-Sayyab Tr. Sinan Antoon The River and Death Buwayb Buwayb Bells of a tower lost deep in the sea Water in jars, sunset in trees Jars dripping bells of rain whose crystals melt in wailing Buwayb, Buwayb A longing darkens in my blood for you, my river Buwayb Sad as rain I wish I could run in ...

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To Carry Sisyphus and the Rock Together

[Art by Sabhan Adam (Syria). Image from]

To Carry Sisyphus and the Rock Together Ghatfan Ghannum  Tr. Sinan Antoon I do not care if I am number 1234, 4567, or any other number. There is no difference whatsoever if I become a refugee in the European continent. I held many names in the past. I travelled and moved in my country without fear of canons or airplanes. We only feared wolves and hyenas and used to hunt rabbits and birds. But we recorded the name of our country on history’s forehead so that our ...

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Amjad Nasser: Questioning Ibn Arabi

[Amjad Nasser. Image from author]

  Questioning Ibn Arabi Amjad Nasser I From Seville to Damascus where I plunged through the scents of Salhiyya’s kitchens and the voices of its persistent sellers until I found you. The sky might be one and the same. . . with clouds raining here and refraining there, with angels absorbed in arranging a mercy that does not arrive, or with migrating birds whose craws carry the shots of pursuing guns. Others carrying the hay of their original homes in their beaks, ...

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أشباح سركون بولص


”كرسي جدي ما زال يهتزّ على أسوار أوروك  تحته يعبر النهر، يتقلّب فيه الأحياء والموتى“  سركون بولص، ”عظمة أخرى لكلب القبيلة“ يتجاور الأحياء والموتى بشكل ملفت للنظر في ديوان سركون بولص الأخير ”عظمة أخرى لكلب القبيلة.“ فنراهم يتقلبون في النهر الذي يجري على أول صفحة فيه. ويعاودون الظهور، سوية، في عدد من قصائد الديوان الأخرى:  ”الأحياء والأموات تفاهموا/على الارتماء في حضن السكينة.“. . .”إنه نفس الفراغ الطالع/من حضرة آخر الليل في أية ...

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On Dead and Living Characters

[Image: Artwork by Mohammed al-Shammarey]

Maha George is a young Iraqi Christian woman from Baghdad in her early twenties. I came to know Maha and her family quite well three and a half years ago. She was studying medicine in Baghdad at the time, but had no plans for staying in Iraq. She, like so many, no longer believed that Iraq was her country and planned on immigrating as soon as she finished her studies. The recent events in Mosul and the catastrophic fate of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (Christians, ...

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من إنجيل العراق الضائع

[اللوحة للفنان السوري يوسف عبدلكي]

عراقنا الذي في الهباءاتِ، ليَتَقَدّسِ اسْمُكَ، ليأتِ جحيمكَ، لتكُنْ مشيئتُكَ، كما في السماء كذلك على الأرض. موتنا كفافنا أعطِنا كلّ يومٍ. ولا تغفر لنا خياناتنا، لأننا لا نغفر لمن خاننا. ولا تدخلنا في التجربة، فقد تعبنا. . . آمين  

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منام الطفل السنجاريّ

[اللوحة بعنان

منام الطفل السنجاري* هو الذي رأى كل شيء. هو الذي رأى، قبل أن ينام، جدّته تتضرّع إلى الله بيديها وشفتيها المشقّقتين. ولم يفهم لماذا لم يستجب ذاك الذي في الأعالي. هل تبخّرت الكلمات في طريقها إلى الأذن الإلهية؟ هل كان على جدّته أن تتضرّع بصوت أعلى؟ هل. . . ؟ هو الذي رأى كلّ شيء. هو الذي رأى، طيراً سماويّاً يأتي من كبد السماء. يهبط ببطء وكأن قمّة الجبل عشّه، وكأنّه صغيره. احتضنه واحتضن جدّته بحنوّ ثم حملهما، ومن معهما، وأخذ يرفرف بجناحيه العظيمين. هو الذي رأى كل شيء. هو الذي ...

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An Excerpt from Sinan Antoon's "Ave Maria"

[Cover of

[The events of Ave Maria take place in a single day. Two characters from an Iraqi Christian family who are drawn together by the situation in the country under the same roof in Baghdad narrate these events. Youssef is an elderly man in his seventies. He refuses to emigrate and leave the house he himself built and where he has lived for half a century. He still clings to hope and memories of a happier past. Maha is a young woman whose life has been torn apart by sectarian ...

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العراق: خطاب التقسيم والأقلمة

[خارطة العراق عام ١٩٢٩ على سجادة. المصدر: أرشيف الكاتب]

عاد خطاب التقسيم و“الأقلمة“ إلى الواجهة مع تدهور الوضع في العراق و“تمدّد“ الدولة الإسلامية وسيطرتها على الموصل وأجزاء مهمّة من البلاد، حتى أصبحت تشكل خطراً حقيقيّاً يهدد وجود الدولة العراقية. فصرنا نسمعه يتداول في التقارير الإخبارية وتعليقات ”الخبراء“ والمراقبين ونقرأه في تعليقات عدد من العراقيين. ولا شك أنّ الإشارات والتصريحات القادمة من القيادات الكردية بخصوص إعلان وشيك عن استقلال كردستان العراق تضيف زخماً إلى خطاب التقسيم والأقلمة في ما تبقّي من العراق. إن الهدف من هذه ...

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A Practical Solution for Iraq

[Image from]

The rise of ISIS and the declaration of a Caliphate that controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria signals a moment of exceptional danger not only for Iraq and its future existence as a state, but for US national interests. The United States has sacrificed life and limb and invested billions of dollars to save Iraq from dictatorship and help its people build a thriving democracy. Mistakes were made for sure, but our intentions and objectives were always clear: to stabilize ...

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Embedded Poetry: Iraq; Through a Soldier's Binoculars

[Hooded Iraqi prisoner comforting his son. Image by Jean-Marc Bouju from]

Critics and reviewers greeted Brian Turner’s Here, Bullet (Alice James Books, 2005) with effusive and unanimous praise. His poems were read as “dispatches from a place more incomprehensible than the moon. . . observations we would never find in a Pentagon press release.” I read the poems back then and was not impressed or moved. I was not surprised that these poems would elicit such praise. Although they were read and were circulating in a climate of timid, but rising ...

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Adunis, Mistranslated (Part One)

[Adunis. Image by Mariusz Kubik, from Wikipedia]

Adonis, Selected Poems. Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2010. Adunis (1930-) is one of the most influential and dominant Arab poets of the modern era and a perennial Nobel contender since the late 1980s. A number of his individual works have been ably translated into English in previous decades by Mirene Ghossein and Kamal Boullata, Samuel Hazo, and Shawkat Toorawa. More recently, Adnan Haydar and Michael Beard ...

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Mahmoud Darwish: My God Why Have You Forsaken Me?

While his readers were celebrating his birthday on the 13th of March, the authorities at the Riyad Book Fair confiscated Mahmoud Darwish’s books after members of the Committee for the Prevention of Vice and Promotion of Virtue complained about “blasphemous passages.” One poem from his 1986 collection Fewer Roses was particularly infuriating as shown in this video. Here is a translation of the poem; a salute to the ever present Darwish and to the freedom of ...

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محمود درويش: إلهي لماذا تخلّيت عنّي؟

بينما كان قراؤه، شرقاً وغرباً، يحتفلون بذكرى ميلاده في الثالث عشر من آذار، صادرت إدارة معرض الرياض للكتاب دواوين محمود درويش (1941-2008) بعد اعتراض محتسبين من هيئة الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر على ما وصفوه بعبارات ”زندقة وكفر وإلحاد.“ ويبدو أن قصيدة ”إلهي لماذا تخلّيت عني؟“ من ديوان ”ورد أقل“ كانت القصيدة التي أغضبت المحتسبين كما يظهر الفديو أدناه. نعيد نشر القصيدة هنا مع ترجمة بالانكليزية تحية للشاعر الغائب الحاضر ولحرية القراءة. وشملت مذبحة المنع والمصادرة ٤٢٠ كتاباً ...

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Sargon Boulus: Two Poems

[Art by Kareem Risan (Iraq)]

  Two Poems Sargon Boulus Translated by Sinan Antoon Times (The song of a Sumerian who lived for a thousand years) Before, times like these have come before Times when we witnessed hurricanes that never stopped uprooting trees: alluvium gushing forth and mud swept away to the end of the horizon covering traces We have known days like these When every day comes to enter the eyes with a strange sun That is if it comes at all. . . When we used to ...

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تجاعيد؛على جبين الريح

[لوحة بدون عنوان للفنان العراقي كاظم حيدرّ]

تجاعيد؛على جبين الريح           1 الريح أمٌّ عمياء تتعثر بالجثث لا أكفان سوى الغيوم لكن الكلاب أسرع   2 القمر مقبرةٌ للضوء والنجوم نسوةٌ يبكين

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New Texts Out Now: Sinan Antoon, The Corpse Washer

[Cover of Sinan Antoon,

Sinan Antoon, The Corpse Washer. Translated from the Arabic by the author. London and New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013. Jadaliyya (J): What led you to write this novel? Sinan Antoon (SA): In March 2004, a year after the invasion and occupation of Iraq, I was reading the New York Times one morning and came across a story about men and women who made their living by washing the dead. Thanks to the military occupation and the violence it unleashed, corpses were piling ...

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Mahmoud Darwish: Iraq's Night is Long

[Mahmoud Darwish. Image from]

[Today marks the fifth anniversary of Mahmoud Darwish’s death.]   Iraq’s Night is Long Mahmoud Darwish [For Saadi Youssef]   Iraq, Iraq is blood the sun cannot dry The sun is God’s widow above Iraq The murdered Iraqi says to those standing at the bridge: Good Morning, I am still alive. They say: You are still a dead man searching for his grave in the corners of cooing   Iraq, Iraq . . . Iraq’s night is long Dawn breaks only to the ...

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العراق؛ من ناظور جندي أمريكي

[رجل عراقي محتجز مع ابنه في سجن أمريكي في النجف في ٢٠٠٣. الصورة لجان مارك بوجو]

بعد صدور المجموعة الشعرية الأولى للشاعر الأمريكي بريان ترنر الذي كان قد حارب في العراق ضمن جيش الاحتلال الأمريكي والمعنونة [Here, Bullet]“هنا أيتها الرصاصة” عام ٢٠٠٥ تم الإحتفاء بها من قبل الصحافة والمؤسسات الثقافية الأمريكية. وحاز صاحبها على الكثير من الجوائز المرموقة بالرغم من أن قصائده لا ترقى إلى المتميّز من تراث شعر الحرب المكتوب باللغة الإنكليزية عن الحربين العالميتين أو حرب ڤيتنام. ذهبتُ إلى أقرب مكتبة يومها وقلّبت صفحات الديوان فلم أجد ما يستوقفني، أو يدهشني. ...

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توني موريسون: وطن

[توني موريسون. الصورة من إن بي آر]

[مقطع من رواية “وطن” لتوني موريسون (نيويورك، كنوبف، ٢٠١٢) التي ستصدر بالعربية بترجمة سنان أنطون قريباً.] التنفس. كيف يقوم به بحيث لا يعرف أحد بأنه مستيقظ. يفبرك شخيراً عميقاً منتظماً ويترك الشفة السفلى تتدلى. والأهم هو أنّ الجفنين يجب ألا يتحركا ولا بد من وجود نبض منتظم ويدين رخوتين. في الثانية صباحاً، عندما فحصوا ليتأكدوا مما إذا كان بحاجة إلى حقنة مهدئة أخرى، رأوا المريض على الطابق الثاني في الحجرة رقم ١٧، غارقاً في نوم المورفين. إن اقتنعوا، فقد يعدلون عن زرق الحقنة ...

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Sinan Antoon سنان انطون


Sinan Antoon is a poet, novelist and translator. His poems and essays (in Arabic) have appeared in as-Safir, al-Adab, al-Akhbar, al-Hayat, Majallat al-Dirasat al-FilastiniyyaMasharef and (in English) in The Nation, Middle East Report, Al-Ahram Weekly, Banipal, Journal of Palestine Studies, The Massachusetts ReviewWorld Literature Today, Ploughshares, Washington Square Journal, Guardian, and the New York Times.

He has published two collections of poetry; Mawshur Muballal bil-Hurub (Cairo, 2003) and Laylun Wahidun fi Kull al-Mudun (One Night in All Cities) (Beirut/Baghdad: Dar al-Jamal, 2010). His novels include I`jaam (2003), which has been translated into English as I`jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody (City Lights, 2006) as well as Norwegian, German, Portuguese, and Italian, Wahdaha Shajarat al-Rumman (The Pomegranate Alone) (Beirut: al-Mu'assassa al-`Arabiyya, 2010 and al-Jamal, 2013) was translated by the author and published by Yale University Press in 2013 as The Corpse Washer and was longlisted for the Independent Prize for Foreign Fiction. It won the 2014 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Literary Translation. His third novel, Ya Maryam (Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2012) was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (The Arabic Booker) and was translated to English as The Baghdad Eucharist (Hoopoe, 2017) Spanish by Maria Luz Comendador and published by Turner Libros in May 2014 under the title Fragments de Bagdad. His fourth novel Fihris (Dar al-Jamal, 2016) was longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction and is forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2018.

His translation of Mahmoud Darwish’s last prose book In the Presence of Absence, was published by Archipelago Books in 2011 and won the 2012 National Translation Award given by the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA). His co-translation (with Peter Money) of a selection of Saadi Youssef's late poetry was published by Graywolf in November 2012.

His academic works include articles on Mahmoud Darwish and Sargon Boulus and a book based on his doctoral dissertation; The Poetics of the Obscene: Ibn al-Hajjaj and Sukhf (PalgraveMacmillan, 2013).

Sinan is a member of the Editorial Review Board of the Arab Studies JournalHe is an associate professor at the Gallatin School, New York University and co-founder of Jadaliyya and co-editor of its culture page. He was a fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study in Berlin in 2016/2017. You can follow him on Twitter: @sinanantoon.

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