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Sinan Antoon سنان انطون


On Resonance/Dissonance: An Interview with Khyam Allami

[Khyam Allami in Concert. Image by Hydar Dewachi]

Khyam Allami, a London-based Iraqi musician, has just released his debut work, Resonance/Dissonance (available through Eka3 in the Middle East and Nawa Recordings everywhere else.) This interview was conducted by e-mail. You can see him live in concert on: Thu 7 July– Home for Cooperation (H4C), Nicosia, Cyprus Sat 9 July – Théâtre de Beyrouth, Beirut, Lebanon Mon 11 July – Al Balad Theatre, Amman, Jordan Sat 16 July – Rich Mix, London, United Kingdom

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We Want to Fill Cells; The Strong Heroes of Moscow Rap Against the Syrian Regime


[This clip was posted today on the "Fann al-Thawra al-Suriyya" (The Art of the Syrian Revolution) page on Facebook. The name chosen by its producer/s, "The Strong Heroes of Moscow," as well as the lyrics, parody the Syrian regime's propaganda and the discourse of its backers. We are reposting a version with English subtitles]

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Five Poems by Wadi Saadeh

[Art by Ali Talib. Image from Unknown Archive]

  [These poems, translated from Arabic by Sinan Antoon, are from Wadi Saadeh's forthcoming collection "Man Akhadha al-Nazra Allati Taraktuha Waraa al-Bab" (Who Took the Gaze I Left Behind the Door).   Lower Your Voice   Lower your voice please! I want to hear what silence is saying Perhaps it is saying: come! And I want to follow it    Signs    Many signs on the roads Signs pointing to cities Signs pointing to ...

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1000 American Luminaries Support the Arab Spring

[Image from Unknown Archive]

Moved by the immense courage of Arab men and women who have toppled vicious dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and those who are still at it in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, some of the brightest stars of American culture and arts have initiated a campaign to show their solidarity with Arabs and to call on the US government to stop supporting dictators. The campaign began in January at the height of the Egyptian revolt. It initially boasted some major household names. One of the ...

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"To the Master of the Banquet" by Sargon Boulus

[Painting by Bader Mahasneh (b. Jordan, 1977). Image from]

"Ila Sayyid al-Walima" appeared in Sargon Boulus' posthumous collection `Azma Ukhra li-Kalb al-Qabila (Another Bone for the Tribe's Dog) (Baghdad and Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2008)   To the Master of the Banquet If you are a master give us some bread a drop of medicine for the sick! You, who call yourself a master, give to those who walked in all these funeral processions bewildered in the dream of disaster for whom a cloud passing through the sky of ...

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Faraj Bayraqdar, Excerpts from "Mirrors of Absence" II

[Art by Sabhan Adam (b. Al-Hasaka, Syria, 1973). Image from Unknown Archive]

This is the second part of selected excerpts from Faraj Bayraqdar's "Mirrors of Absence," written in Saydnaya Prison, Syria, between 1997-2000. The first part was published last week.   Mirrors of Absence  40   It is neither bias nor bragging there is no graveyard in this world or the next bigger than this one: what I call my country   41   What happens when they open the gates? What happens when they shut them? as if a ...

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Faraj Bayraqdar, Excerpts from "Mirrors of Absence"

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

Faraj Ahmad Bayrakdar was born in Homs, Syria, in 1951. He studied Arabic at the University of Damascus. He was arrested by Syrian Military Intelligence in 1987 on suspicion of membership of the Party for Communist Action. He was held incommunicado for almost seven years and was tortured. In 1993 he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Bayrakdar was released in November 2000 following an amnesty without obligation to renounce his political activities. He left to ...

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"The Language of Almonds," A Short Film/Tribute to Hussein Al-Barghout by Salim Abu Jabal

[Hussein Al-Barghouti. Image from Unknown Archive]

Hussein Al-Barghoti (1954-2002) was born in Kobar, near Ramallah, Palestine. He earned a B.A in English literature from Birzeit University in 1983 and a Ph.D in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington in 1992. He taught at Birzeit from 1994 to 1997 and at Al-Quds until 2000. Al-Barghouti was multitalented and wrote poetry, fiction, lyrics, scripts, plays and literary criticism. He published sixteen books and tens of studies and articles. He was one of the ...

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حنين إلى الضوء

[ حلم، للفنان السوري صفوان داحول، مواليد حماه، ١٩٦١. المصدر غير معروف]

 حنين إلى الضوء    سنان أنطون “إلى أحرار سوريا”           ضع أذنك اليمنى أو اليسرى على الأرض وانصت . . . هل تسمع الأقمار وهي تختنق بالتراب؟ الأشجار تشهق تمدّ جذورها لتقبّل جباه الموتى الجدد الأغصان ترتعش وليس لدى الريح ما تقوله الآن الليل في حداد لكن شفاهاً أخرى ستستيقظ غداً لتردّد ذات الكلمات وتقبّل الشمس

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[ لوحة بلا عنوان، أحمد السوداني. المصدر غير معروف]

  مزمور ”إلى شهداء سوريا"   لا يذهب الشهداءُ إلى الجنّة فأبوابها مغلقة منذ قرون والتجّار الذين اشتروا أنهارها ينظرون من الشرفات العالية إلى الطوابير الطويلة وحشود المشرّدين في الخارج

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"The Meaning of My Prayer" by Sargon Boulus


“Ma`na Salati” (The Meaning of my Prayer) appeared in Sargon Boulus’ posthumous collection `Azma Ukhra li-Kalb al-Qabila (Baghdad and Beirut: Dar al-Jamal, 2008). The Meaning of My Prayer Perhaps this is what I prayed for at times This is what I saw in moments of despair my eyes half shut sleepless until dawn That garden (Its leaves, from childhood, still glisten at noon washed by a sun no longer visible) A handful of trees A time not stained by the hand of ...

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عن سورية: لقاء مع ياسين الحاج صالح [On Syria: Interview with Yassin Al Haj Saleh

[Syrians Watching al-Asad's Speech. Image from The Washington Examiner]

  ياسين الحاج صالح كاتب ومعارض سوري، قضى ستة عشر عاماً في السجن أثناء حكم حافظ الأسد. من كتبه سوريا في الظل: نظرات داخل الصندوق الأسود (جدار٢٠٠٩). يجيب هنا على بعض الأسئلة التي طرحتها جدلية عليه حول الأوضاع في سوريا.    سنان أنطون: ما هو تحليلك للوضع الحالي في سوريا؟ تحديداً تعامل النظام مع المظاهرات ومع تبعاتها؟  ياسين الحاج صالح: سورية في أزمة وطنية حادة. لدينا نظام سياسي مغلق ومعدوم المرونة يواجه احتجاجات شعبية سلمية غير مسبوقة، وهو ليس ...

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Two Poems by Rashid Hussein

[1980 Land Day Poster by Abed Abdi. Image from Unknown Archive]

March 30th is Yam al-Ard (Land Day). It marks the general strike and marches organized in Palestinian towns in Israel on that day in 1976 to protest the Israeli government’s expropriation of thousands of dunams of land for “security and settlement purposes.” Six Palestinians were killed in the confrontations. The day and its events marked a turning point in national mobilization and the relationship between Palestinian citizens and the Israeli state. It became an annual day ...

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Mahmoud Darwish: Standing Before the Ruins of Al-Birweh

[The remains of the cemetery at al-Birweh. Image by Maqbula Nassar, from]

March 13th is Mahmoud Darwish’s birthday. He departed on August 9th, 2008, but he is seventy today and his poems are t/here for us. Jadaliyya celebrates his presence by publishing this translation.   Standing Before the Ruins of Al-Birweh   Like birds, I tread lightly on the earth’s skin so as not to wake the dead I shut the door to my emotions to become my other I don’t feel that I am a stone sighing as it longs for a cloud Thus I tread as if I am a ...

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Iraq Too?

[An Iraqi waving the Iraqi Flag at Tahrir Square. Image from unknown archive]

Many cast doubts that the lung through which Tunisia breathed freedom could give birth to kindred lungs in Arab lands to the east or west. Even after Egypt shook the earth to dethrone its last Pharaoh, doubts were cast again as to the mobility of the phenomenon. Then came Libya, which is on the verge of casting away its dangerously delusional and brutal despot. Tunisia is everywhere. The spirit of the mythical bird, al-Bouazizi, hovers, together with those of other martyrs, ...

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Libya Erupts and Morocco Protests Planned for February 20th

[Mohammed VI, the King of Morocco, Image from Unknown Archive]

The revolutionary wind is heading west as well. In addition to clashes in Benghazi, earlier today, one of al-Qadhdhafi’s murals went up in flames in al-Bayda. They chanted “It’s your turn Qadhdhafi, O dictator.”             

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Impromptu: The Cairo Commune

[Egyptian protester hooked to an IV drip, image from unknown archive]

They fought tooth and nail Wednesday night and defended al-Tahrir Square after a long day during which the last Pharao played his last card by unleashing his hired dogs to attack unarmed protesters who shook the earth in Egypt under his throne. When darkness fell, those heroes persevered despite a rain of rocks, Molotov cocktails and sniper bullets. They barricaded themselves and sealed the entrances to al-Tahrir. Their real barricades, however, were their hearts and spirit ...

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Singing for the Revolution

[Nigm and Imam Performing, Image from Unknown Archive]

So was it Wikileaks, Facebook, or Twitter? Perhaps all three contributed to the revolutionary winds in the Arab world? This is one of the questions repeated ad nauseam by a great number of commentators and parroted by many in the United States and elsewhere in the “civilized world.” Others wonder if perhaps it was Obama’s speech in Cairo or even the Bush doctrine (for Fox-infested minds and they are many)? Yes, new technologies and social media definitely played a role and ...

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Impromptu: A Word

[Al-Tahrir Square,Cairo, January, 25th. Image from unknown archive]

We were told, time and again, that “revolution” and “the people” were obsolete terms, irrelevant in a post-revolutionary world, especially in the Arab world. This, after all, was a place where the burden of the past weighed so heavily and the cultural DNA somehow preconditioned those who carried it to feel more at home with tyrants and terror. Too many trees were killed theorizing about the region’s inhospitability to democracy. “Reform” was the most one could hope for. ...

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Divine Failure & A Letter to my Ancestor

[Image from unknown archive]

Divine Failure He always sat in the front row in that divinity school in a faraway galaxy. He listened devoutly to the teacher and wrote every word that came out of his mouth. He was a diligent god who memorized all the secrets and tricks of creation by heart, but he lacked talent. And thus, when he was given all that space after graduation, he took a jab at creating the Sun, just as he’d learned in Genesis. But he created dead stars instead and dumped them into the ...

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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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