Robin Moger: Wadih Saadeh’s Dead Moments

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Gueorgui Pinkhassov, Bluewater Commercial Center, London, 1999. Source: magnumphotos.com

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Suddenly the sunbeam disappeared. I believe a cloud is passing over the house. Sunbeams disappear for two reasons alone: clouds hide them or it is night. And being morning, most probably a cloud is passing.

Maybe soon it will rain and I will be able to watch the rain from the window. Life is so beautiful: that circumstances allowing one can watch the rain. Mine is a water sign and I imagine that now and then a planet up in space melts and flows down in front of me. Happy notion. I pick it up and approach the window. I open the pane and look out at the cars, the arid asphalt, the weary labourers. Why do these labourers get tired? I used to get tired myself sometimes and the sweat would flow, but then I turned my back on it and for years I rested. Sweat of the brow is hateful; shameful in fact. Disgusting: rising from sleep to make oneself sweat. A car goes by leaving a light cloud of dust behind it. A cat asleep on the corner opens then shuts its eyes. I close the window and slowly make my way back.

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Robin Moger Does Wadih Saadeh

Horses at the door

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Eugène Delacroix, “Two Horses Fighting in a Stormy Landscape”, 1828. Source: clarkart.edu

Must this go on forever?

The wind

perpetual gesture

and the hand that slips

from me unnoticed.

.

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Robin Moger Does Ahmad Yamani

Tomorrow the village market day

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By Youssef Rakha. Leukerbad, Switzerland

I will go to the spring

where you slip away to fill your jar

everyone at the market and me by the tree

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Robin Moger Does Sargon Boulus

Meeting with an Arab poet in exile

Cedars of Lebanon, American Colony (Jerusalem). Photo Dept, Lebanon, 1900-20. Source: loc.gov

Cedars of Lebanon, American Colony (Jerusalem). Photo Dept, Lebanon, 1900-20. Source: loc.gov

At that outcast and lonely hour,
that hour of night when choices narrow
until each absence takes on meaning as a cloud of smoke,
between the voices of the drunken patrons in that small restaurant
and the wash of the still sea that beats, below, against its rocky shore,
at that outcast hour of night, that lonely hour,
he talked to me of the legendary poets of exile
and how he’d known them in his youth, he
who still followed the same path,
and from an ancient notebook
which bore on its cover the cedar of Lebanon
began to read aloud his long two-columned poems.
 .

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Noor Naga: Boy Does Not Like To Share

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Federico Giovannini, from “You and I”. Source: lensculture.com

Knowing a father’s belt has snap-

ping metal teeth, one does not

have to think of kneeling.

One kneels. One kneels

to please before the word is

heard or the leather tongue

slides drily through the loops.

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Five Poems in English by Mina Nagy

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

Pick-up Lines

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?

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Writing the North African Experience: Interview with Youssef Rakha

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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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