MAJOR PALESTINIAN POET GHASSAN ZAQTAN AND PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN POET FADY JOUDAH TO SPEAK
In the newly translated collection, published originally as Ka-tayr min al-qashsh yatba’uni in Arabic in 2008, Zaqtan departs from the lush aesthetics of such celebrated modern Arabic poets as Mahmoud Darwish and Adonis to define a new aesthetic characterized by delicate narratives, whirling catalogues, and austere descriptive language. The poems mine personal and collective Palestinian experience to address issues of memory, history, exile, and return.
Poet Cole Swensen said in advance praise of the translated collection, “Zaqtan’s poems are uncompromising in their direct engagement with daily life, detailing the way in which the quotidian is, after all, the grand narrative of history. Joudah’s brilliant translations capture not only sense, sound, and rhythm, but also pulse, infusing the English language with a new sensibility.”
Zaqtan was born in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, and spent part of his youth in refugee camps where his father, a poet, worked as a United Nations official. He resided in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Yemen, and Tunisia before returning to Palestine in 1994. He is the co-founder and director of the literary arts organization, the House of Poetry in Ramallah, and is currently the Director General of the Literature and Publishing Department of the Palestinian Ministry of Culture. He also edits the literature supplement of the Palestinian daily newspaper al-Ayyam.
Award-winning poet and translator Fady Joudah is a practicing physician of internal medicine at a Veteran’s Administration hospital in Houston, Texas. He is also a member of the international relief organization, Doctors Without Borders, performing tours of duty in refugee camps in Sudan and Zambia. Poet Yusef Komunyakaa said that Joudah’s first collection, The Earth in the Attic (2008), underscores “his great talent for exacting naked feelings that engage the age-old mysteries of this world….”
Joudah’s translations include two poetry collections by the late Mahmoud Darwish, If I Were Another (2009), winner of the PEN USA Literary Award for Translation, and The Butterfly’s Burden (2006). Poet Kazim Ali, writing about If I Were Another for the Kenyon Review, said, “[Darwish] has, in Joudah’s startling and tensile English, expanded into us a new vastness.”
For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.