Tuesday, September 26, 2006

This (not quite) Just In

Just finished--and I mean just finished, as of 12 hours ago--my essay for that collection on Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture. Remember that? Was a time I posted on that pretty much weekly. Then I decided I'd better actually get busy and write it.

Turned out to be harder than it sounded, but thanks to the very flexible deadlines of my editors (PBUT) and their willingness to let me write about not only Norman, but also a handful of other poets inter alia, it's done (at 40 pages, almost), and in, in, in!

So, catching up a bit, this came over my email transom a few days (weeks?) ago, and I thought I'd pass it along:


Literature of the Levant

is pleased to announce


BY Samih al-Qasim

Translated from the Arabic by Nazih Kassis, introduced by Adina Hoffman

965-90125-5-1, paper $15.95, 224 pages

One of the foremost Palestinian poets and a major figure in the Arab world, Samih al-Qasim was born in 1939, in Zarqa, Jordan, to a Palestinian Druze family from the Galilee. He grew up in the village of Rama and experienced the Palestinian tragedy of 1948 first hand, achieving fame as one of the celebrated “resistance poets” during the 1950s. His first book was published when he was just eighteen, and over the decades he has produced a body of work that is as varied and innovative as it is large. Today a citizen of Israel and still a resident of Rama, Samih al-Qasim is an outspoken opponent of racism and oppression on all sides of the Middle East conflict. Given the richness of al-Qasim’s work and its centrality to Arabic literature at large, it is surprising that his poetry remains almost unknown in English to non-specialists.

This bilingual collection will, it is hoped, help to correct this state of affairs, since one cannot really claim to understand modern Palestinian letters without reading Samih al-Qasim. Sadder Than Water collects poems from his various periods and modes and makes available to English readers for the first time ever the full range of al-Qasim’s oeuvre, which is characterized by its ironic approach to painfully charged political situations, its melancholy music, and its lyrical evocation of Palestinian heritage.

“Brilliant … youthful and daring.”

Naguib Mahfouz

“When we read his poetry … amid the torrent of despairing poems that poured forth [after 1967] we felt an extraordinary power surging forth … from the depths of despair and misfortune, defying despair and misfortune.”

al-Tariq (Lebanon)

“Al-Qasim’s new poems … are close to the hearts of oppressed people everywhere.”

al-Nahar (Lebanon)

Samih al-Qasim is the author of over thirty books of poetry, as well as several novels, collections of plays, essays and criticism. He appears regularly at literary festivals throughout the Arab world and in Europe, his work has been translated into many languages, and editions of his collected poems have been published in Beirut and in Cairo.

Nazih Kassis is a lexicographer and translator of contemporary Arabic prose and poetry. He received his doctorate in linguistics from the University of Exeter and has compiled, edited, and translated several dictionaries. He has taught English and Arabic at the University of Haifa, the Academic Arab College for Education, and Portland State University. He writes poetry in the local dialect. Born in the Palestinian village of Iqrit in 1944, he has lived in Rama since 1948.

Adina Hoffman is the author of House of Windows: Portraits from a Jerusalem Neighborhood (Steerforth Press/Broadway Books). She has worked as film critic for the American Prospect and the Jerusalem Post, and her essays and literary criticism have appeared in the TLS, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, New York Newsday, and on the World Service of the BBC. One of the founders and editors of Ibis Editions, she is writing a life and times of the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad Ali.

To order the book or learn more about Ibis Editions, please visit our website: www.ibiseditions.com

Everything I have read from Ibis has been stunning, and I don't see why this should be any exception. I have my credit card in hand, folks, and I'm clicking over as soon as this goes up on Blogger. Hope I'll see you there!