— Agha Shahid Ali reading “Of It All”
— “Counter Clock” (What will we do with all this future?), from PHROOM feature on Christto & Andrew
Sometimes I think about praying
Maybe in congregation with other Muslims
Afterwards, I would call my mum and tell her:
People liked my voice when I recited the Qur’an
This happens again and again
But I haven’t done it a single time since I left home
I did not even call and ask her how she is…
Mahmoud Almunirawi defines this PDF as an album of overexposed images of architecture and poems “written during my 5 years in Sweden. Together,” he writes, “they form an abstract biography of life events.” тнє ѕυℓтαη’ѕ ѕєαℓ, which posted some of these poems in the original Arabic, was not involved in editing the English text, which was translated from Arabic by Slimen Zougari.
The grey ships come from the north,
The snow-white ships come from the pole,
The ships of the south are all broken down.
O Harbourmaster sitting on the cloudbanks,
O Harbourmaster walking on the water,
Tell those leaping on the equator line
How their flesh might turn to wood,
How their bones might turn to steel,
Until from out their bodies comes a ship
Its black pushing through the swell.
The men of this city make animal
sounds as if to say
I got a slaughter with your neck
on it now how
you gonna walk with your psst-psst hidden
all your psst-psst hiding
and my tick-tick pointing
pants how now you gonna walk two-legged
with my panting your
stiff sniffable neck and my smick-smack with my
bone back watching—
Matthew Chovanec reviews Yasser Abdel Hafez’s The Book of Safety, for which Robin Moger won the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize in 2017
Arabic novels are so frequently described as Kafkaesque or Orwellian that you’d be forgiven for thinking that the two authors were themselves Arab. It is a small wonder that noone has yet tried to uncover their secret Arab origins by etymologizing their names (قفقاء and الروال) in the way that the Turks have for Shakespeare. It is true that both of their names have become literary shorthand for a type of writing dealing with dystopia, oppressive bureaucracies, and the horrors of totalitarian society. It is also true that Arab societies have continued unabated to live through dystopias, oppressive bureaucracies, and the horrors of totalitarian society. But the label flattens out what is particular and new about so much excellent Arabic writing, and suggests that everything you need to know about the daily experience of living in a dysfunctional and cruel system can be captured by the term “nightmarish”.