Meanderings & mawqifs of poetry, poetics, translations y mas. Travelogue too.

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Arabic Poetry Conference @ Boise State University

April 20th, 2016 · Arab Culture, Arabic, Maghreb, Maghrebi Literature, Mashreq, Middle East, Poetry Festival, Poetry readings, Translation



مرءتمر الثعر العربي

Thursday 4/21/16

3-5pm. Panel: On Arab Literature Today. Bishop Barnwell Room

3-4: MAGHREB: Pierre Joris & Habib Tengour present Poems for the Millennium Maghreb Anthology

4-5: MASHREQ: Osama Alomar and Faiza Sultan present the situation of poetry in the Mashreq.

6-8pm.  Poetry Reading by Faiza Sultan & Osama Alomar, followed by Q & A. Jordan AB Ballroom

Friday 4/22/16

3-5pm. Panel: On Translating Arab Literature Barwell Room

Faiza Sultan, Osama Alomar & Habib Tengour.  Moderator: Pierre Joris

6-9pm .Poetry Reading by_Pierre Joris & Habib Tengour  followed by Q & A.

Simplot AC Ballroom

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Palestinian Poet Dareen Tatour Reportedly Jailed, Prosecuted for Poem on Facebook

April 18th, 2016 · Israel, Palestine, Poetry

dareenvia Arab Literature (in English) & BY MLYNXQUALEY on APRIL 18, 2016 • ( 2 )

According to a post that appeared on the +972 blog, Palestinian poet Dareen Tatour has been charged with incitement to violence based on a poem she posted on Facebook, shifted between prison and house arrest. In her first hearing, held April 13, a policeman translated the “Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum” poem at the center of the trial:

It was around 3 a.m. on October 10, 2015, when Tatour was first arrested, according to +972.

The main clause of the indictment, which came later, was apparently was based on a poem posted on Youtube under Tatour’s name, with the, “Qawem ya sha’abi, qawemhum” (Resist my people, resist them). Another clause in the indictment, according to +972, refers to a post on her Facebook page calling for a “comprehensive intifada.”

The +972 poster, the pseudonymous Yoav Haifawi, discussed the gaps in translation between how Israeli security sees words like shaheed and intifada, and how they’re understood and expressed by Palestinians. But the strangest moment in translation came at the April 13 hearing. Haifawi writes:

The prosecution started its plea by calling the policeman who translated the “Qawem” poem to Hebrew to the stand. The scene was completely surreal. Poems, by their very nature, are incommensurate with the concept of “proven beyond reasonable doubt” that stands at the heart of criminal law. The witness, a policeman, was struggling with the ambiguities of the poem’s content, supplying his intuitive interpretation to the phrases. We were torn between the urge to laugh out loud and the bewilderment that gripped us, bearing in mind that the freedom of our dear Dareen depends on this nonsense.

There is a more detailed report available in Hebrew.

Haifawi said there was a small supporting crowd at the April 13 hearing, which included some of Tatour’s relatives “as well as Muhammad Barakeh, the head of the Arab Higher Monitoring Committee (the official representative body of the Palestinian citizens in Israel), and Member of Knesset Haneen Zoabi.” Haifawi went on to call for international solidarity among writers and poets:

Yet I think that the case of Dareen Tatour deserves special attention.

She is a woman and a poet. The main charge against her is based on her poem. This is a good opportunity for poets and writers to take a stand against the occupation and its practice of criminalizing any Palestinian expression of the desire for freedom and dignity.

Read the whole essay on +972.

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Fugs For Bernie!

April 13th, 2016 · Uncategorized

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“In an unlivable land”

April 12th, 2016 · Blogs, Photography, Poetry

#Idomeni. A woman and a child. In the unlivable land of razor wire, clashes, rubber bullets, tear gas: image via Valerio De Cesaris @ValerioDeC, 11 April 2016

#Idomeni. A woman and a child. In the unlivable land of razor wire, clashes, rubber bullets, tear gas: image via Valerio De Cesaris @ValerioDeC, 11 April 2016

Check out the amazing array of photos (& texts) with which Tom Clark has been documenting the disastrous history (and its remaining beauty & humanity) we are living through, stuck in, throttled by, day in day out, on his “Beyond the Pale” blog. It has become a daily moment of reflection for me.

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Happy Birthday, Jack Kerouac!

April 11th, 2016 · Celebration, Live Reading, Poet, Prose

Possibly my single favorite piece of writing by Ti’Jean (March 12, 1922, Lowell, MA — October 21, 1969, St. Petersburg, FL): October in the Railroad Earth — given as poem by Youtube, in fact a prose piece, though its absolute beauty is exactly its genre-defying swing — writing at its most superb, writing to be listened to. Enjoy!

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“DADA anders” Trailer

April 8th, 2016 · Aesthetics, Art Exhibition, Dada, Europe, Poetry

Sophie Taeuber-Arp, Hannah Höch, Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven exhibition in Zürich’s Museum Haus Konstruktiv

Sophie Taeuber-Arp in Ascona, 1925, Courtesy Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin/Rolandswerth

Sophie Taeuber-Arp in Ascona, 1925, Courtesy Stiftung Arp e.V., Berlin/Rolandswerth

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Special Issue of Refugee Poetry, MPT Launches ‘The Great Flight’

April 6th, 2016 · Arab Culture, Arabic, Poetry, Refugee Poetry, Translation

on ( 0 )

On Wednesday, April 13 at London’s Southbank Centre will host the launch of “The Great Flight,” Modern Poetry in Translation’s refugee-focussed issue, ed. Sasha Dugdale:

Image from the Southbank Centre.

Image from the Southbank Centre.

The free event, which is set to begin at 8pm, will feature performances by Syrian poet Golan Haji, civil rights activist and writer Nasrin Parvaz, and translator-poet Stephen Watts. You can hear “readings of Golan’s poetry in Arabic and in superb new English translations by Stephen Watts, followed by a discussion on issues of identity, dislocation and discrimination with Nasrin.”

The issue also includes work by five Assyrian Iraqi poets, the great Algerian poet-translator-scholar Habib Tengour, and Algerian poet and novelist Mohammed Dib.

Poems by Golan Haji:

Four  poems, trans. Lauren Pyott

Autumn Here is Magical and Vast, trans Stephen Watts

Poems by Habib Tengour:

Crossing, trans. Marilyn Hacker

Seven poems, trans. Pierre Joris

Poems by Mohammed Dib:

Fifteen poems, translator uncredited

Also: Madeleine Campbell on Translating Mohammed Dib Through ‘Sound, Gesture, Movement and Sculpture’

More meditations on exile:

Sargon Boulus: “A Refugee Tells” (trans. Youssef Rakha and Kees Nijland)

Dara Abdallah: 14 Poems (trans. Mona Kareem)

Ashraf Fayadh: ‘The Last of the Line of Refugee Descendants’ (trans. Jonathan Wright)

Hassan Blasim: “A Refugee in the Paradise That is Europe” (trans. Jonathan Wright)

Osama Esber: Exile is Born at This Moment” (trans. Esber)

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Mikhl Likht addresses Ezra Pound…

April 1st, 2016 · Poem, Translation

likht…in a poem translated from Yiddish & with a note by Ariel Resnikoff.


After the Yiddish of Mikhl Likht


Ezra :
Calm to no avail in classic banalities
& offtimes magic clown
not from breeding:
Your pages — my out-dated prophecies.
Your book — sesame for my psychic aventuras.
I make a pact with you as you
made a pact with the “Good Grey Poet” :
I am also a condemned scrap of ordinary dust.


The sun from far-off Idaho
rises colored ribbons
from his troubadour-tree.

The arrogant eyes
shine on once-sophistic(ated)
thru gold-dust from a medieval chorale
with forced shimmer
from Rihaku’s Cathay-creations;
once —
with Haman’s poisonous blood-evil sickness.

Idaho-cool air in Arnaut Daniel’s rich
breath subtle with the pronunciation of “La Dolche
                Lingua Toscana.”

Like everything that’s more sinister than intimate.

The rhetoric of Camões is his Shatzer’s rhetoric.
In Dante-Odess, with a well-wrought burden,
an alchemist, a romancer.

(Naturally, the past attracts in dust piles:
Today is the day dressed in a well known sun-mode:
All-known is the address where one receives one’s sun-dress).

It conjured the imported Spanish pavane
& paired incomprehensible oppositions
with Haman’s public blood-evil.


TRANSLATOR’S NOTE. Mikhl Likht (1893-1953) was a Yiddish American poet, critic, editor & translator, whose radical masterwork, Protsesiyes [Processions], accompanies &, in some cases, pre-figured the long poem experiments of English poets, Pound, Loy, Eliot, Williams & Zukofsky, with all of whom he was in contact. “E.P,” which appears in Likht’s Yiddish collection, Vazon [Vessel, 1928], addresses head-on the stagnation of Pound’s panculturalist anti-Semitism & “betters the instruction” (to quote a young Zukosky quoting Shylock).  Likht published the first stanza of “E.P.” as an English poem called, “To the Author of Lustra.” under the pseudonym, Max Licht Sonin, in the little magazine, The Pagan in 1918. (A.R.)

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On Paul Verlaine’s 172nd birthday…

March 31st, 2016 · Paul Celan, Poem, Poet, Translation

imagesselma_portrait…here — via the very useful Lyrikzeitung & Poetry News — is a translation of Verlaine’s most famous (& famously untranslatable) poem Chanson d’automne into Yiddish by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger.
Born in Czernowitz in 1924, this young woman, a cousin of Paul Celan’s (they would on occasion meet and sing together & talk poetry at Celan’s grandfather’s brother house on Sabbat evenings), wrote poetry in German and died at 18 of typhus in Michailovka on the Bug river, in the same labor-camp, in which Paul’s parents were held and also died. As recounted here, “poignantly, in 1968, Paul Celan would permit a German press to include his masterpiece “‘Todesfugue” in an anthology only if Selma’s “Poem” was published next to his. Thus Celan paid tribute to his cousin and was responsible for Selma’s first published verse.”

Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger


(lid fun pol verlen ibergesezt funem franzejsischn*)

a lang gewejn,
fidlen alejn
s’gejt scho noch scho
fun benkschaft blo
un fartracht.

derschtikt das glik
kuk ich zurik —
schohen gejn
ch’se jene teg,
sunike teg —
un ich wejn.

ich loß sich gejn
in wint, alejn —
schwer un mat.
a mide asa
asoj wi a
tojt blat.

*) Poem by Paul Verlaine, translted from the French F.

Paul Verlaine

Chanson d’automne

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon coeur
D’une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
Et je pleure

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
Feuille morte.

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Uri Avnery: What Happened to the Jews?

March 30th, 2016 · Israel, Palestine

UriavneryMarch 26, 2016

SUDDENLY I remembered where I had seen it before.

The same kind of face. The same chin thrust forward, to produce an impression of force and determination.

The same way of speaking. One sentence and then a pause, waiting for the mob to shout approval.

The same combination of monster and clown.

Yes. Unmistakable. I saw it in my early childhood. On newsreels.

Benito Mussolini. Rome. Piazza Venezia. The Duce on a balcony, The huge mob down below in the piazza. Delirious. Applauding. Shouting until they were hoarse. A mass orgy of mindlessness.

This week I saw and heard it again. This time on TV.

THERE WERE differences, of course.

Presidential candidate Donald Trump was speaking in Washington DC, the modern successor to ancient Rome.

The Duce was bald, and therefore always wore a fanciful hat especially designed for him. The Trump wore his trademark orange hair, very carefully arranged by himself (according to his butler).

Mussolini spoke Italian, one of the world’s most beautiful languages, even coming from the mouth of a dictator. Trump spoke American English, a language that even its most ardent admirers would not call melodious.

But the largest difference was the character of the audience. The Duce spoke to a Roman mob, a late successor to the ancient Roman plebs who, not far from there, had cried for blood in the arena.

Trump spoke – unbelievably! – to an assembly of mostly elderly, wealthy and well educated Jews.

Jews, for God’s sake! People who secretly believe that they are the most intelligent on earth! Delirious Jews, shouting, clapping, jumping up and down after every sentence, as if possessed.

WHAT HAS happened to these Jews?

It’s a sad story. During World War II, when the Holocaust was in full swing, American Jews kept quiet. They did not use their already considerable political might to induce the President to do something significant to save the Jews. They were cowed. They were afraid of being accused of war mongering.

Once somebody brought me a Nazi leaflet dropped by the German Luftwaffe over American lines in Italy. It showed a fat, ugly Jew embracing a blond American girl. It said something like: “While you are shedding your blood here, the rich Jew at home is seducing your girlfriend!”

The Jews were afraid to do anything that could be seen as a confirmation of the Nazi propaganda slogan that this was a war instigated by the Jews and their stooge, “President Rosenfeld”, to destroy the Aryan race. So they kept quiet.

These Jews had come to America one or two generations earlier. The victims of the Holocaust were their close relatives. The remorse for their inactivity during the Holocaust is haunting them – especially the elderly among them – to this very day.

Their blind allegiance to the “Jewish State” is a result of this remorse. Many American Jews – especially the elderly – feel more attached to Israel than to the US. The British slogan “My country, right or wrong” is applied by them to Israel.

This was the audience of Trump at the AIPAC mass meeting.

AIPAC IS the embodiment of Jewish might and Jewish complexes.

In a way, it is the late actualization of that famous Russian forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion”, about the Jews ruling the world. By many accounts, it is the second most powerful lobby in the US (after the lobby of the gun crazies).

How did a small political organization, some 60 years ago, reach these dizzy heights? The Jews are far from being the most numerous ethnic community in the US. But, as a result of the inbuilt fear of anti-Semitism, they stick together. And, far more importantly, they donate money. Lots and lots of money. In both respects, they outdo much larger communities, like the Arab one.

The American political process, once the envy of democrats around the world, is by now basically corrupt. Political advertising is both necessary and expensive. Anyone running for office needs heaps of money. Looking for money is now the main job of an American politician.

In today’s America, almost every politician can be bought. Literally. So can entire party organizations. The sums are not even very impressive. AIPAC has pushed this corruption to a climax.

To demonstrate their power, AIPAC has produced some glaring examples. They are not satisfied with denying money to politicians that have criticized Israel in any way. They have actively put an end to the political careers of critics by taking competing nobodies, stuffing them with money and getting them elected in their place.

If there were such a thing as political terrorism, AIPAC would take the crown.

WHAT IS this immense power used for?

The Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote an article this week that shocked many, claiming that AIPAC is in fact an anti-Israeli organization. If I had written that article, it would have been even more extreme.

If, God forbid, the State of Israel does not survive the next 100 years, historians will put a lot of the blame on American Jewry, headed by AIPAC.

Since 1967, Israel has faced a simple but fateful choice: Give up the occupied Palestinian territories and make peace with Palestine and the entire Arab and Muslim world – or cling to the territories, build settlements and go on with an endless war.

This is not a political opinion. It is a historical fact.

Any true friend of Israel will do everything possible to push Israel in the first direction. Every dollar, every ounce of political influence, should be used for this purpose. In the end, the two states – Israel and Palestine – will live side by side, perhaps in some kind of confederation.

An anti-Semite pushes Israel in the other direction. Within the next 100 years Israel would turn into a bigoted, nationalist, even fascist, isolated apartheid state with a growing Arab majority, and the entire country would eventually become an Arab state with a shrinking Jewish minority.

Everything else is a pipedream.

SO WHAT is AIPAC doing?

In his monumental work “Faust”, Goethe describes the devil, Mephisto, as a force that always wills the bad and always achieves the good. AIPAC is the exact opposite.

It supports the existence of a “Jewish State” but pushes it forcefully along the road to another of the huge disasters in Jewish history.

They have an excuse, of course: it’s the Israelis themselves who have chosen this course. AIPAC only supports whoever the Israelis elect in democratic elections. Israel is the Only Democracy in the Middle East.

Nonsense. AIPAC and its sister groups are deeply involved in Israeli elections. They support Binyamin Netanyahu, the far-far-right Prime Minister, and the entire ultra-right spectrum of Israeli parties.

Perhaps I should put the blame on American Jewry in general. It’s not just AIPAC, but millions of other Jews. They all support Israel, wrong or worse.

But that may be out of date. I am told that a new generation of Jews in America is turning their backs on Israel altogether, even supporting Israel-haters. That would be a pity. They could play a role in resurrecting the Israeli peace camp instead, doing their bit for an enlightened Israel, upholding the old Jewish values of peace and justice.

I don’t see that happening. What I see is young and progressive American Jews quietly disappearing from the stage, leaving it to the new American Mussolini and his delirious, shouting up-and-down-jumping Jews.

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