Friday Finds: Five Poems by Qassim Haddad

Qassim Haddad

In Middle Eastern Literatures, Fakhreddine, Allen, and al-Zahrani write of the poems they have translated: “The poems that follow showcase Haddād’s poetic experimentation. Friday Finds: Five Poems by Qassim Haddad

Huda Fakhreddine, Roger Allen & Hatem   al-Zahrani collaborated on translations of five poems by Qassim Haddad that originally appeared in Middle Eastern Literatures in 2018, and are now available to a wider public:

The poems come from Haddad’s first   poetry collection,   al-Bishara   (The Omen), which appeared in 1970; he has since published more than a dozen more. “And if our despair doesn’t melt away,/ (at least) the violins feel that we have understood[.]”

Read all five poems online. Ranging from the lineated metered or unmetered text to the prose block, these poems reveal Haddād’s pre-occupation with form, which remains unresolved even in the prose pieces.”

The final poem “The violins,” was translated by Hatem al-Zahrani, and opens with a command: “Say something to the violins[.]”

The poem doesn’t go on to tell us what exactly we should say to the violins. Rather, it addresses the question of why we should talk to them at all: “Maybe the words will tell them that we are strangers/ and that music delays us/ and within us is dance, enough to set the entire city asway.”

The music is somewhere inside us, the narrative voice hopes. He has one collection in English, translated by Ferial Ghazoul and John Verlenden: The Chronicles of Majnun Layla and Other Poems.