Cairo by Piri Reis, 16th century. Source: Wikipedia

Cairo’s coolest cosmopolitan hotel. General Manager: Youssef Rakha.


Arabic calligraphy by Mahmud Atef

Arabic language Arab Spring art Beirut black and white Cairo death Egypt Fiction History Islam literature love Muslim Novel Poetry Revolution

رواية سفر شعر شمس ضحك غرام قصة قصيرة قصيدة نثر قلب قهوة كتابة مدينة مرض مطر موت موسيقى نص نوم

Robin Moger: From Ibn Arabi’s Turjuman al Ashwaq

I wish I knew


Claudia Gerhard. Source: strkng.com

I wish I knew they knew what heart

they held. That my heart knew

what pass they tread. You wonder

Are they safe?

Or perished?


The enamoured are

in love adrift





This is Robin Moger’s version of the first poem in Turjuman al Ashwaq

Rachael de Moravia: The Mutability of Beauty

Illustration (made for the poem) by John Trefry


I went to New Orleans when I was young.

Spanish moss hung from trees like bodies in the still air.


I wore white linen because of the heat

and the only time I felt comfortable was at three in the morning.


Her shoulders were bare, her hips narrow like a boy’s,

her skin pale and soft as moth wings in the monochrome night.


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علي المجنوني: اسم كامل ليس شائعا

Alex Majoli, Riyadh, 2002. Source: magnumphotos.com

ذاك بيتي. قال السائق وهو يشير إلى منزلٍ على يسارهما ظاهرُه مكسوٌّ بحجر الرياض الكريمي والأبيض. السور العالي، الحجري أيضاً، تحيط به شجيرات محفوفات بعناية شديدة حتى أنها بدت على هيئة مكعبات خضراء معلّقة في الفراغ. سارا بعد ذلك بالسيارة قرابة ٣ كيلومترات. لم يسأل الراكب، لكن السائق قال وكأنه أحسّ تذمراً: إصلاحات مشروع تصريف مياه السيول. له سبعة شهور.
بالطبع لم يكن الراكب متذمراً، ولم يكن يجهل النزعة الفطرية للالتفاف على حواجز أسمنتية وأخرى بلاستيكية وأقماع فوسفورية. إن كان شعر بشيء وقتها فهو امتعاضه من اعتقاد السائق بعجزه عن فهم رموز المدينة التي لم يتخلّ عنها إلا قريباً. في الطريق كان السائق قد سأله وهو ينهي مكالمة هاتفية لزوجته: إنت ليه ما تأخذ لك جوال؟

استمر في القراءة

آية نبيه: الآن

Niki Boon, from “Wild and Free”. Source: burnmagazine.org

كان على كل اثنين أن يمشيا بحيث يتقدم أحدهما الآخر بخطوة مغمضًا عينيه، بينما يضع الثاني كفه على ظهر مغمض العينين بدرجة تحذره قبل أن يرتطم بشيء ولا تدفعه إلى اتجاه معين. أسميتها وصفة الوجود والخفة. يمشيان هكذا لبعض الوقت ثم ينفصلان. ينتظر صاحب الكف في مكانه ويتحرك مغمض العينين وحده إلى أن يكتفي، وهنا عليه أن يجد طريق العودة نحو الكف، دون أن يختلس النظر، ليستأنفا مشيهما.

استمر في القراءة

Krupa Ge: Eating Others’ Words


Source: i.pinimg.com

My upbringing in Madras in the late 1980s and 90s led me to picnics in the beautiful country that dotted Enid Blyton’s books – just as it did many children of my generation and the generations before me. The Famous Five and The Secret Seven offered a generous serving of scones, marmalade, pears, fresh cream, crumpets and whatnot… And like any self-respecting EB-reading child, I nurtured a not-so-secret yearning to eat scones at tea one day.

When I finally tried them, surprisingly later in life, at a charming café in Madras, I was utterly disappointed. Perhaps it was the weight of all that expectation, perhaps I wasn’t a scone person, I could never figure out which.

Scones disappointed me, but I kept looking for food in my books. As I grew up and my taste took a turn towards writers closer to home, and to cultures similar to mine, I not only enjoyed local tastes in my mouth as I savoured the words that leapt out of the pages, but also actual dishes. That’s when it hit me: food, just like books, was political; perhaps that’s why we vacillate from wanting books banned to foods banned, once every few months here.


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Nurat Maqbool: Dark Waters

INDIA. 2015. Three friends, Kashmir.

Sohrab Hura, Three friends, Kashmir, 2015. Source: magnumphotos.com

It was a rainy day in April.

Noonie stepped out of her school bus and looked across the lake. The naked bulbs on a line of houseboats stared back at her. “Now what?’ they seemed to ask.

The clouds swathed the mountains. The wind punched, pushed, bent the trees across the road.”

She had to row half a kilometre to reach her home: a houseboat. Hers was at the farther edge of the lake near the marshy land. Every day she rowed the small shikara to and fro across the lake. Sometimes, Gul kak, a neighbour, rowed her in case it rained. But that day, no one was in sight.

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Robin Moger: Ahmad Yamani’s The Scream

Michael Donovan. Source: studiodonovan.com

My sister screamed in the night

Take me to my brother’s house

And there she screamed that same night

No no! Take me back to the house of my father

They took her back

And when she made to scream again

The night had passed

And the men had gone to work.


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