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The Atlas is proud to be partnering with the Hay Festival's Beirut39 contest, celebrating Beirut's year as UNESCO World Book Capital, to find the hottest authors under 40 of Arabic origin. Nominations are open until August 24th, 2009.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Yousef Alqedra: Poems

Translator Ali Issa comments that Yousef Alqedra's language is often deliberately and distinctively awkward in Arabic, an "awkwardness" he didn't try to smooth over in translation.

Shade fights barriers of illusion
erasing its heavy awakening.
I also cooperate . . .
Your absence is a hell made of nightmares.
I do not sign on the echo of fatigue’s tremble.
I just whisper an unimprisonable secret into the ear of the universe
and slap it in the face!

* * *

Let’s Say

Let’s say
there’s a beautiful port
embraced by a calm blue
and your heart’s seagulls
are flying.

It’s hot, of course,
and only your smiles
moisten the beach and its goers.

An old man with a forehead
from an old country, and a hook
-on your right-
that he catches his memories with and sobs.
On your left, the heart of a failed phrase.
The sea was as happy as it could be,
the curb out in the water.
Its edges were colored with green and grass.

Your two wide eyes left the country.
They’d covered my soul more than I’d thought.
The sun was about to set.
My hand slipped from between us
when it got close to your shaking hand.
I acted out of aesthetic necessity.

Like this:
Time took us on a journey
from a dream to physics.

The discussion was heavy and had an air of chemistry.
It was overflowing with butterflies’ liveliness,
dressed in an elegant surprise,
reviewing used meanings,
and furnishing for a fresh and smiling world.

There are children playing like distant continents.
The shore is a piece of glass.
The photos look like our joy
and friends were warm and a genuine shelter.

I told you that your presence:
is a real shove to a stupid illusion,
warmth to a gatherer of diasporas,
beauty that lessens the burden of the end.
I still sometimes suspect
that I’m a character
in a dream of yours!

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