Five Poems by Saadia Mufarreh: ‘A Poetess Is a Double Provocation’

She had won several awards, and was shortlisted for the Sheikh Zayed Book Award one of the years the prize was, for some reason, withheld. This gorgeous, fantastically paced translation is a standout among the few works of Mufarreh’s that have been Englished, and is full of moments like, “Memories are/   the bruise of not being[.]” Mufarreh is a poet and critic, the arts editor of Al-Qabas daily newspaper in Kuwait. She graduated from Kuwait University in Arabic Language and Education in 1987 and has published four collections of poetry:   Mere: A Mirror Lying Back (1999), Book of Sins (1997), When You’re Absent, I Saddle My Suspicion’s Horses(1994), and He Was the Last of the Dreamers(1990). Who knows how
they trickle in and scurry out,  
how they hum like a knot
of sandgrouse caught
in the snare of distance,  
laying waste  
to silence, that stranger
not to be trusted,
getting the better of love,
that looted thing. Over at   Sultan’s Seal, poet-translator   Yasmine Seale has brought a poem of Saadia Mufarreh’s into English. The poem, which isn’t given a title, begins:
You’re not there  
but details linger. She is a regular contributor to several Arabic publications and serves as the art editor of the newspaper Al-Qabas in Kuwait. A 1987 graduate of Kuwait University with a degree in Arabic language and education, she has published four collections of poetry: Mere: A Mirror Lying Back (1999), Book of Sins (1997), When You’re Absent, I Saddle My Suspicion’s Horses(1994), and He Was the Last of the Dreamers(1990). Several more were included in   Banipal 43,   translated by Alison Blecker. Saadia Mufarreh is a poet, critic, and writer who lives in Kuwait. Four more of her poems, it seems, have been translated into English:
Soon She Will Leave,   translated by Hend Mubarek Aleidan with Patty Paine
To Fadwa Tuqan,   translated by Nay Hannawi
Several of Mufarreh’s poems were included in   Banipal 6. She also has brought out   critical writings and publications for children. And then there’s the “Untitled” poem, translated by Yasmine Seale, at   Sultan’s Seal. In a text published in   Jehat,   Mufarreh wrote: “Poetry is a gamble, [and] a poetess is a double provocation, the critics say!”
The piece ends, “Let them say what they want.”
 

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