Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Shape of the World -- a dream of equality

     One of the most vital components of the Washington DC poetry scene is Split This Rock -- an  organization that speaks and acts against injustice.  (Co-founder and Executive Director, Sarah Browning, is a long-time activist and a fine poet.)  One of STR's 2016 programs has been Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 a book arts and cultural festival that commemorates the 2007 bombing of Baghdad’s historic bookselling street, and emphasizes free exchange of ideas and knowledge, in solidarity with the people of Iraq.  Several weeks ago at one of these events I met poet Dunya Mikhail and her translator, Kareem James Abu-Zeid, and was involved in discussion and reading from The Iraqi Nights (New Directions, 2015).  Here is a mathy poem from that collection.

       The Shape of the World      by Dunya Mikhail
                                           translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid)
       If the world were flat
       like a flying carpet,
       our sorrow would have a beginning
       and an end.

       If the world were square,
       we'd lie low in a corner
       whenever the war
       plays hide and seek.

       If the world were round,
       our dreams would take turns
       on the Ferris wheel,
       and we'd all be equal.

     A link to the Arabic original version of this poem is shown at the bottom of Mikhail's webpage -- a link that also offers  a recording of her reading this poem, set to music.
     And please note that coming up soon is the  2016 Split This Rock Poetry Festival (April 14-17, 2016) with many excellent workshops and readings.  Learn about it here and register (online registration closes March 31).  See you there.

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