Susannah Tarbush reviews Jordanian poet Amjad Nasser's Shepherd of Solitude, the first collection of his work to appear in English. It's translated by poet Khaled Mattawa and published by Banipal Books. Tarbush argues that the volume gives English readers an insight into a major Arabic poet, his poetry marked by a fierce wit and equally fierce elegiac manner, a poet of many flavours gathered by a sharp intelligence.
Khaled Mattawa sums this sense up beautifully in his introduction, pointing out that Nasser uses the word and image of the shepherd frequently, positioning himself, as poet,
like a shepherd watching over a flock of wayward, reckless versions of himself. He gives these selves free rein to act out their crises and victories, and they in turn reveal to him various shades of the glory and folly of human nature. Their flaws recounted and noted, he shepherds them home at the end of the day and closes the stable door behind him.