Mina Nagy: Mistakes


Source: 1stdibs.com

I make this many mistakes 

just to be sure that one morning

I will cross over to the cafe

without them being counted.

“I wish you were here”

is not such a cliche

considering it is the point of my life.

I hate Freud for practical reasons,

Marx for aesthetic ones.

But Hegel – he sneaks me the kind of theology

that keeps you going behind your mother’s back.

Kafka laughs his bitter Jew’s laugh

every time I complain to him about you.

In the morning I cross over to the cafe

carrying a bag with a laptop inside it,

my mistakes’ register.

Mina Nagy: Pick-Up Lines


Elliott Erwitt, New York City, 1977. Source: magnumphotos.com

I can only relate poems to dreams,

that’s why the last three years

I had a few of them

though I’d already denounced myself as a poet;

because escaping from consciousness

is like escaping from the self,

it doesn’t go past skin’s borders.


I’ve counted masturbation sessions as though counting sheep,

without calculating mean or median

or any statistical tricks.

I wanted to say, Love you,

but it came out, Fuck you.

Maybe we can have dinner some time?

Writing the North African Experience: Interview with Youssef Rakha


Centre for African Poetry: Let us begin by inviting you to humour our ignorance. The title of your 2011 novel is translated Book of the Sultan’s Seal, but we wonder which of the two names we have seen for it in Arabic is more accurate – khutbat al-kitab, or Kitab at Tughra?

Rakha: Kitab at Tughra is the title. Khutbat al-kitab means, literally, “Address of the book”; it’s a formulaic canonical phrase for “introduction” or “prologue”, which here and in old Arabic books doubles as a kind of table of contents; on the surface the novel is modelled on a medieval historical text. It may be worth mentioning in passing that the original sense of kitab, which is the Arabic word for “book”, means simply “letter” or “epistle”: every canonical book is addressed to a patron or a friend, and that’s an idea that is particularly meaningful to me.

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Imogen Lambert: “They tweeted martyrdom with lattes”


yrakhahipa 6

By Youssef Rakha


Tower of Babel

And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined…

Night bites my shoulder. I turn to you, through a nylon window

To a state of limbo, there on a map

Under rivers of paper

We never drown, gazing on bridges

Night hugged my waist, like my mother, wailing

Where are our parents?

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Mohab Nasr: The people are asleep

Two Versions


“The people are asleep,

Don’t wake the people, darling,

So she’d tell him

Whenever he cracked his knuckles on the balcony,

Whenever his eyes shone behind the door

Like a password,

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Please, God, give us books to read

A poem by Mohab Nasr


I was a teacher;


I considered that natural.

For this reason I began to bow

to words I did not say;

and to communicate my respects to my children.

I tried to make them understand that it was absolutely necessary

for someone to read,

to review with his parents—

while he hurls his shoe under the bed—

how exhausting and beautiful respect is:

that they have no future without words.

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