Contemporary Poetry From Iraq by Bushra Al-Bustani: A Facing Page Translation

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A scholarly translation of a poem expressing the intensity and immediacy of grief. At a time when the portrayal of Iraq, its people, and the Arabic language is monolithic, al-Bustani’s Andalusian work illuminates the complexity, diversity, and humanity of Iraq as well as Arabic.


“In the end, the lamenting stanzas compel us to enter the wounds of al-Bustani’s homeland, its people, its myths, and its history, rendered by the translators in a rich, accessible language. By translating and interpreting from their unique perspective as Iraqis, the nuanced translators offer us their deepest labor of love—namely the gift of their translations straight from the soul of Iraq.” - Deema K. Shehabi, Radius of Arab-American Writers

“The translators have accomplished a heroic task in translating a long sequential poem rich in literary, historical and cultural reference, formally complex, out of their mother tongue into English (a near-impossible challenge for any literary translator). They have provided an introduction richin background material about the particularities and challenges of the Arabic language, Arabic poetry, and translating it into English in particular, from which it is so syntactically and lexically different. But their preface also introduces readers to the poet Bustani, makes her background, her scholarship, her aesthetic and political commitment immediate to us.
The poetic sequence itself is a revelation in its synthesis of the stance of witness with a tradition connecting present events and present poetic composition with the history and signal events of a people. Al-Bustani deliberately « perverts » a genre of praise and rejoicing, the muwashsha??t Andalusi?a, to a chant of mourning for her country and an expression of defiance to its invaders. The context of lyrical praise-song, the shadow of the lost multiculturalmeeting-place that was al-Andalus, informs this lyric elegy (for anongoing death), gives it a back-story at once of unimaginable lossand of possible regeneration.” - Prof. Marilyn Hacker, City College of New York

Table of Contents

Foreword by Deema Shehabi
Transliteration of the Arabic
Translators’ Prologue
Andalusian Songs for the Wounds of Iraq

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