Friday, March 19, 2010

Abdul Wahab Al-Bayati

There's nothing like an Iraqi poet who writes in honor of Rafael Alberti. And there's a bilingual collection of his work, called LOVE, DEATH, AND EXILE: POEMS TRANSLATED FROM ARABIC. It's an absolutely amazing gathering of his work, with wonderful introduction written by the translator, Bassam K Frangieh. Like Alberti, he writes of Cordoba and Cuba, and it's amazing how he managed to mimic Alberti's distinctive imagery. Here's a snippet:
from: Poems on Separation and Death

The prince of the moon was
Riding the fire horse
On the plains of Spain
Which crawled to the sea,
Carrying his seven sons in his ring.
When he passed through an enchanted garden
A young woman lay in wait for him
Calling his youngest son.
She seduced him with a love spell
Which rendered him mute and
Sealed his eyes with secrets
When he took her,
She took him: he disappeared.

There's another little passage from a piece called "For Rafael Alberti," that sounds like another version of Darwish's "Poetic Regulations:"
From my poetry I inherited: this deadly poverty,
This love, this flame, this murderous sword
With which my throat will be cut one day
For my support of the poor.

And, as an added bonus, the book is printed as a mirror-text, with one side in Arabic and the facing page translated into English.

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