Innovations and Dialogues

A Brave New Quest: 100 Modern Turkish Poems

Talat S. Halman (Editor), Jayne L. Warner (Editor)
Publisher: Syracuse University Press (May 2006)
ISBN-10: 0815608403; ISBN-13: 978-0815608400

This anthology features a wide variety of 20th and 21st century poems about social justice, love, evocations of history, humanitarian concerns, and other themes. It contains examples of the revolutionary romanticism of Nazim Hikmet; the wry and captivating humor of Orhan Veli Kanik; the intellectual complexity of Oktay Rifat and Melih Cevdet Anday; and the modern mythology of Ilhan Berk as well as the diverse explorations of younger poets.

Traditions

A Millennium of Turkish Literature: A Concise History

Talat S. Halman (Author), Jayne L. Warner (Editor)
Publisher: Syracuse University Press, 2010
ISBN-10: 0815609582; ISBN-13: 978-0815609582

A Millennium of Turkish Literature tells the story of how literature evolved and grew in stature on the Turkish mainland over the course of a thousand years. The book features numerous poems and extracts, most in fluid translations by Halman. This volume provides a concise introduction to Turkish literature and, with selections from its extensive Further Reading section, serves as an invaluable guide to Turkish literature.

Traditions

About The Tribes of Bani Shadad and Bani’a’rush

The Bani Shadad and Bani ‘A’rush are two of the seven tribes of the Bakil Confederation, who live in a mountainous region east of Yemen’s capital San’a. The region is known for its rich oral poetic traditions. Yemeni tribesmen often phrase messages in poetic form, using it as a way of honoring those with whom they wish to negotiate and then conduct the negotiations themselves in verse.

Traditions

Abu Nuwas: A Genius of Poetry

Philip Kennedy (Author)
Publisher: Oneworld, 2007
ISBN-10: 1851685103; ISBN-13: 978-1851685103

Abu Nuwas (756 – 813) was one of the greatest Arab poets of the classical period. He is particularly renowned for his poems on wine and pederasty. His verse is laced with humor and irony, reflecting the genial yet cynical outlook of the poet, who spent much of his life in pursuit of pleasure. Yet he was in fact an all-round poet and exerted a profound influence on Abbasid poetry more generally; he is one of a handful of individuals who can be deemed to stand at the very heart of Arabic literary culture.

Migrations and Adaptations

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation

Eboo Patel
Publisher: Beacon Press, 2010
ISBN-10: 080700622X; ISBN-13: 978-0807006221

Eboo Patel, a former Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford, is the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that unites young people of different religions to perform community service and explore their common values. With honesty, Patel relates how he suffered the racist taunts of fellow youth, and, in response, alternately rebelled against and absorbed the religion of his parents—Islam—but in his own way. Meanwhile, he continued to pursue interfaith work with vigor, not quite knowing his end goal but always feeling in his gut that interfaith understanding was the key. This autobiography of a young activist captures how an angry youth can be transformed—by faith, by the community and, most of all, by himself—into a profound leader for the cause of peace.

Origins

Adonis

Adonis: Selected Poems,
Trans.  Khaled Mattawa.
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2010.
ISBN-10: 0300153066; ISBN-13: 978-0300153064

The first comprehensive survey of the work of acclaimed Arabic poet Adonis’ (1930- ) work by the poet’s own handpicked translator, Khaled Mattawa. Experimental in form and prophetic in tone, Adonis’ poetry sings exultantly of both the sweet promise of eros and the lingering problems of the self.

Traditions

Al-Mutanabbi

Margaret Larkin (Author)
Publisher: Oneworld, 2007
ISBN-10: 1851684069; ISBN-13: 978-1851684069

This exhaustive and yet enthralling study considers the life and work of al-Mutanabbi (915-965), often regarded as the greatest of the classical Arab poets. A revolutionary at heart and often imprisoned or forced into exile throughout his tumultuous life, al-Mutanabbi wrote both controversial satires and when employed by one of his many patrons, laudatory panegyrics.

Migrations and Adaptations

Alcalay, Ammiel

After Jews and Arabs: Remaking Levantine Culture
Publisher: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.
ISBN-10: 0816621551; ISBN-13: 978-0816621552

The thesis in this difficult but important book is that conventional modes of interpreting Western civilization have left little room for the complex play of Semitic and non-Semitic culture in the Levant, and for the roles of Arabs and Jews in the formation of European cultures. The book is also a valuable introduction to Levantine Hebrew and Arabic literatures, both medieval and modern.

Migrations and Adaptations

Ali, Agha Shahid

The Veiled Suite: The Collected Poems of Agha Shahid Ali.
Publisher: WW Norton, 2009.
ISBN 978-0-393-06804-7

Poet Agha Shahid Ali (1949-2001), who taught at the University of Utah, at the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, was a major promoter of the ghazals in English. Mourned by myriad lovers of poetry and devoted students, this collection, gathers his work, from playful early poems to themes of mourning and loss, culminating in the ghazals of his final book, Call Me Ishmael Tonight.

Migrations and Adaptations

Ali, Agha Shahid, ed.

Ravishing DisUnities: Real Ghazals in English.
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press, 2000.
ISBN-10: 0819564370; ISBN-13: 978-0819564375

This anthology brings together ghazals by a rich gathering of 107 poets including Diane Ackerman, John Hollander, W. S. Merwin, William Matthews, Paul Muldoon, Ellen Bryant Voigt, and many others. Agha Shahid Ali’s lively introduction gives a brief history of the ghazal and instructions on how to compose one in English.

Migrations and Adaptations

Ali, Kazim

The Far Mosque.
Publisher: Alice James Books, 2005.
ISBN-10: 9781882295531; ISBN-13: 978-1882295531

Kazim Ali’s (1971- ) poetry debut draws on mystical traditions of the world’s religions in its urgent quest. These gently fragmented narrative lyrics pursue enlightenment in long, elegant yet plainspoken, dark yet ecstatic lines. The poems travel by water and by night, seeking The Far Mosque and its overarching paradox: that when God and Self are one, an ascent into Heaven is a voyage within.

Innovations and Dialogues

Ali, Taha Muhammad

So What: New and Selected Poems, 1971-2005,
Trans. Peter Cole, Yahya Hijazi and Gabriel Levin.
Publisher: Copper Canyon Press, 2006.
ISBN 1-55659-245-0

Taha Muhammad Ali (1931-2011) was a revered Palestinian poet whose work is driven by vivid imagination, disarming humor, and unflinching honesty. Born in 1931 in Galilee, he fled to Lebanon during the 1948 war. A year later he slipped across the border with his family and settled in Nazareth. The longtime owner of a souvenir shop, Ali was self-taught in contemporary literature, and a favorite reader at international literature festivals. Composed in a synthetic Arabic that draws both on classical language and colloquial speech, Ali’s vivid free verse conveys the moody resilience of his personality in treatments of the national grief of occupation, exile and the Palestinian Arabs’ “endless migration.” Often informed by symbols and structures from Arab tradition, Ali’s ironies stand alongside easily grasped, even universal, versions of lament: “We did not know/ at the moment of parting/ that it was a moment of parting.” His poems portray experiences that range from catastrophe to splendor, each preserving an essential human dignity.

Traditions

Andrews, Walter G., Najaat Black and Mehmet Kalpakli, eds.

Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology.
Publisher: University of Washington Press, 2006.
ISBN-10: 029598595X; ISBN-13: 978-0295985954

For the people of the Ottoman Empire, lyrical poetry was the most prized literary activity, and it was used to express all manner of things, from feelings of love to a plea for employment. This collection offers free verse translations of 75 lyric poems from the mid-fourteenth to the early twentieth centuries. Biographies of the poets and background information on Ottoman history and literature complete the volume.

Traditions

Anonymous

Tales from 1,001 Nights: Aladdin, Ali Baba and Other Favourites,
Trans. Malcolm C. Lyons and Ursula Lyons.
Publisher: Penguin Classics, 2012.
ISBN-10: 014119166X; ISBN-13: 978-0141191669

A one-volume edition of “Tales from 1,001 Nights,” drawn from the acclaimed landmark translation published in 3 volumes by “Penguin Classics” in 2008. It contains “Aladdin”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, “Sindbad the Sailor” and many others of the most enjoyable and beloved tales from the “Arabian Nights”.

Innovations and Dialogues

Arif, Iftikhar and Waqas Khwaja, eds.

Modern Poetry of Pakistan.
Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press, 2011.
ISBN-10: 1564786056; ISBN-13: 978-1564786050

Modern Poetry of Pakistan brings together not one but many poetic traditions indigenous to Pakistan, with 142 poems translated from seven major languages, six of them regional (Baluchi, Kashmiri, Panjabi, Pashto, Seraiki, and Sindhi) and one national (Urdu). Writers included range from Pakistan’s national poet Muhammad Iqbal to the young Pashto poet Hasina Gul.

Innovations and Dialogues

Aslan, Reza

Tablet and Pen: Literary Landscapes from the Modern Middle East.
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company, 2010.
ISBN-10: 0393065855; ISBN-13: 978-0393065855

This unique gathering of poems, memoirs, fiction, and essays, many translated into English for the first time from Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Urdu, covers the past century of frenetic disruption and change in the Middle East in works of beauty, dissent, irony, and romance. Includes the writings of Kahlil Gibran, Tawfiq al-Hakim, Nâzim Hikmet, Ismat Chughtai, Muhammad Iqbal, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Forugh Farrokhzad, Ahmet Hamdi Tanpınar, Yaşar Kemal, Ghassan Kanafani, Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Ahmad Shamlu, Naguib Mahfouz, Orhan Pamuk, and more.

Traditions

Attar, Farid al-Din

The Conference of the Birds,
Trans. Dick Davis and Afkham Darbandi.
Publisher: Penguin Classics, 1984.
ISBN-10: 0140444343; ISBN-13: 978-0140444346

Composed in the twelfth century in northeastern Iran, Farid Attar’s great mystical poem is among the most significant of all works of Persian literature. A marvelous, allegorical rendering of the Islamic doctrine of Sufism, it describes the pilgrimage of the world’s birds in search of their ideal king, the Simorgh bird, and the arduous journey they take to reach him. This masterly translation preserves the poem’s rhymed couplet form and nuances of language.

Innovations and Dialogues

Behbahani, Simin

A Cup of Sin: Selected Poems,
Trans. Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa.
Publisher: Syracuse Univ Press, 1999.
ISBN-10: 0815605544; ISBN-13: 978-0815605546

As a Muslim woman writing in Iran, Simin Behbahani’s (1927- ) collections contain some of the seminal work of twentieth-century Persian literature. Written over almost a half-century, much of her work reflects the traumatic experiences that have shaped recent Iranian history. In the traditional verse of the ghazal, she improvises with meter to echo and provide new interpretations.

Innovations and Dialogues

Book of the Edge

Ece Temelkuran (Author), Deniz Perin (Translator)
Publisher: BOA Editions Ltd, 2010
ISBN-10: 1934414360; ISBN-13: 978-1934414361

One of Turkey’s most accomplished young writers, Ece Temelkuran (1973- ) describes an allegorical journey wherein the speaker, or explorer, encounters strange creatures, including a butterfly, bull, swordfish, sow bug, and cruel city dwellers in Book of the Edge. Temelkuran has published eight books of poetry, prose, and nonfiction and is an award-winning journalist and political commentator.

Innovations and Dialogues

Charara, Hayan, ed.

Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry.
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press, 2008.
ISBN-10: 1557288674; ISBN-13: 978-1557288677

Inclined to Speak gathers together poems from the most important contemporary Arab American poets that shape and alter our understanding of the Arab experience. These poems also challenge us to reconsider what it means to be American. Included in the anthology are Naomi Shihab Nye, D. H. Melhem, Lawrence Joseph, Khaled Mattawa, Mohja Khaf, Kazim Ali, Fady Joudah, and Lisa Suhair Majaj. With Charara’s introduction about the state of Arab American poetry, short biographies of the poets, and an extensive list of further readings.

Traditions

Desert Tracings: Six Classic Arabian Odes by ‘Alqama, Shanfara, Labid, ‘Antara, Al-A’sha, and Dhu al-Rumma

Michael A. Sells (Editor, Translator)
Publisher: Wesleyan University Press, 1989
ISBN-10: 0819511587; ISBN-13: 978-0819511584

Desert Tracings is a translation of six classical sixth to eighth century Arabic odes (qasidas) traditionally begin with the relationship of the lover to the beloved. As Michael Sells writes in his introduction, the qasida been overshadowed in the West by other Arabic literature, such as The Arabian Nights, but the qasida is the primary literary tradition in both pre-Islamic and Islamic Arabia. The remarkable richness of language and range of mood captured in theses translations help explain their enduring fascination.

Innovations and Dialogues

Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea

Dunya Mikhail (Author), Elizabeth Winslow (Translator)
Publisher: New Directions, 2009
ISBN-10: 0811218317; ISBN-13: 978-0811218313

An impressionistic memoir by the award-winning Iraqi-American writer, Dunya Mikhail, Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea covers her earliest sensations of childhood to a more complicated grasp of death, beginning with the death of her father to the Gulf War and the subsequent Iraqi War.

Innovations and Dialogues

Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood

Fatima Mernissi
Publisher: Perseus Books, 1995
ISBN-10: 0201489376; ISBN-13: 978-0201489378

“This rich, magical and absorbing growing-up tale set in a little-known culture reflects many universals about women. The setting is a “domestic harem” in the 1940s city of Fez, where an extended family arrangement keeps the women mostly apart from society, as opposed to the more stereotypical “imperial harem,” which historically provided sex for sultans and other powerful court officials. Moroccan sociologist Mernissi charts the changing social and political frontiers and limns the personalities and quirks of her world. Here she tells of a grandmother who warns that the world is unfair to women, learns of the confusing WW II via radio news in Arabic and French, watches family members debate what children should hear, wonders why American soldiers’ skin doesn’t reflect Moroccan-style racial mixing and decides that sensuality must be a part of women’s liberation. With much folk wisdom–happiness, the author’s mother told her, “was when there was a balance between what you gave and what you took”–this book not only tells a winning per

Migrations and Adaptations

E-mails from Scheherazad

Mohja Kahf (Author)
Publisher: University Press of Florida, 2003
ISBN-10: 0813026210; ISBN-13: 978-0813026213

Kahf establishes herself as a new voice in the tradition of ethnic American poets, blending the experiences of recent Arab-American immigrants into contemporary American scenery. In her poems, Muslim ritual and Qur’anic vocabulary move in next door to the idiom of suburban Americana, and the legendary Scheherazad of the Thousand and One Nights shows up in New Jersey, recast as a sophisticated postcolonial feminist.

Innovations and Dialogues

Eda: an Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry

Murat Nemet-Nejat (Editor)
Publisher: Talisman House, 2004
ISBN-10: 1584980346; ISBN-13: 978-1584980346

The only American anthology to date to track the development of one of the great poetic traditions of our time. Nemet-Nejat offers an introduction to modern and contemporary Turkish poetry, particularly the avant-garde, until now largely unknown in the West. Poets include Nazim Hikmet, Orhan Veli Kanik, and Cemal Sureya. A selection of essays completes the volume.

Migrations and Adaptations

Exile is My Trade: A Habib Tengour Reader

Habib Tengour (Author), Pierre Joris (Translator)
Publisher: Commonwealth Books, 2012
ISBN-10: 0984264051; ISBN-13: 978-0984264056

A survey of the poems and writings of Habib Tengour (1947- ). Though widely published in Europe and North Africa, this is the first English language volume of his works to be published. With over 19 books published to date he is one of the Maghreb regions most important poets and commentators. Tengour, born in Algeria, divides his time between Paris and Constantine. Pierre Joris has been one of Tengour’s most active translators into the English language.

Innovations and Dialogues

Forugh Farrokhzad: “Inaugurating the Garden”

Translator Sholeh Wolphe’s introduction and Forugh Farrokhzad’s reading “Inaugurating the Garden”

Migrations and Adaptations

Impasse of the Angels: Scenes from a Moroccan Space of Memory

Stefania Pandolfo (Author)
Publisher: University Of Chicago Press, 1998
ISBN-10: 0226645320; ISBN-13: 978-0226645322

Composed as a polyphonic dialogue of texts, Impasse of the Angels explores what it means to be a subject in the historical and poetic imagination of a southern Moroccan society. Passionate and lyrical, ironic and tragic, the book listens to dissonant, often idiosyncratic voices—poetic texts, legends, social spaces, folktales, conversations—which elaborate in their own ways the fractures, wounds, and contradictions of the Maghrebi postcolonial present.

Origins

Introduction to the Language of the Qur’an

Duke University professor Bruce Lawrence offers an introduction to the poetic style and aural beauty of the Qur’an and discusses the challenge of translating archaic Arabic into modern-day English.

Traditions

Islamic Mystical Poetry: Sufi Verse from the Early Mystics to Rumi

Mahmood Jamal (Editor, Translator)
Publisher: Penguin Classics, 2010
ISBN-10: 9780140424737; ISBN-13: 978-0140424737

Poetry has been the most powerful vehicle for conveying Sufism, the mystical dimension of Islam, from the early flowering of mystical Islam in Baghdad to the later heights it reached through Jalaluddin Rumi (d. 1273) and Jami (d. 1492). Starting with the writings of eighth-century mystics, this anthology moves through the twelfth century with Ibn Arabi in Spain and Ibn Farid of Cairo, then onto the Maghrib prayer of Abul Ala Al Maari, Aynul quddat Hamddhani of Persia, Yunus Emre of Turkey in the fourteenth century, and many others, culminating in the early twentieth century.

Traditions

Lailí And Majnún: A Poem

Nizami (Author), James Atkinson (Translator)
Publisher: Kessinger Publishing, 2008
ISBN-10: 1437181317; ISBN-13: 978-1437181319

This book is a facsimile reprint of the 1836 verse translation of Lailí and Majnún, the most popular of Persian romances, by British scholar James Atkinson. In a culture where men and women were rigidly separated, marriages were arranged, and love played a much larger role in fantasy than in real life, 12th century poet Nizami created a tragic love story to rival Romeo and Juliet.

Migrations and Adaptations

Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora

Persis M. Karim (Editor)
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press, 2006
ISBN-10: 1557288208; ISBN-13: 978-1557288202

Until recently, Iranian literature has overwhelmingly been the domain of men. But the new hybrid culture of diaspora Iranians has produced a prolific literature by women that reflects a unique perspective and voice. Let Me Tell You Where I’ve Been is an extensive collection of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction by women whose lives have been shaped and influenced by Iran’s recent history, exile, immigration and the formation of new cultural identities in the United States and Europe.

Innovations and Dialogues

Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me and Other Poems

Ghassan Zaqtan (Author), Fady Joudah (Translator)
Publisher: Yale University Press, 2012
ISBN-10: 0300173164; ISBN-13: 978-0300173161

Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan (1954- ) is the author of ten collections of poetry. Critically acclaimed among avant-garde artists in the Arab world, he is also a novelist, playwright, and editor. Zaqtan is the cofounder and director of the House of Poetry in Ramallah. These poems have been rendered into English by award-winning poet and translator Fady Joudah.

Traditions

Listen

Translation of Rumi’s “What Can I Do, Muslims?” with Music by Amir Vahab & Ensemble

Origins

Listen

Sohaib Khan recites Sura 93 of the Qur’an

Innovations and Dialogues

Listen


Translator Sholeh Wolpe’s introduction and Forugh Farrokhzad’s reading of “Inaugurating the Garden”

Migrations and Adaptations

Listen


“Song of Sabdatama” performed by Jogja Hip-Hop Foundation featuring Akala

Engagement

Modern Arabic Poetry

Salma Khadra Jayyusi (Editor)
Publisher: Columbia University Press, 1991
ISBN-10: 0231052731; ISBN-13: 978-0231052733

After centuries of Ottoman rule, the Arab world began to find new vitality and freedom in the twentieth century. The accompanying resurgence of creative expression is reflected in this definitive anthology of contemporary Arabic poetry, which spans the modern Arab world from the turn of the century to the present, from the Arab Gulf to Morocco. The editor, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, a renowned expert on modern Arabic literature, presents a through introduction to the works of more than ninety Arab poets.

Innovations and Dialogues

Muhajababes: Meet the new Middle East: Young, Sexy, and Devout

Allegra Stratton
Melville House, 2008
ISBN-13: 9781933633503

Two thirds of the population in the Middle East is under 25 years old, and there’s been an explosive growth of college graduates. Still, there aren’t enough jobs to go round. They’re having a collective quarter-life crisis. In the months before turning 25 herself, BBC producer Allegra Stratton set out to meet them. She visits Beirut, Amman, Cairo, Dubai, Kuwait City and Damascus during a time of potentially momentous change, looking for youth culture.

Traditions

Nets of Awareness: Urdu Poetry and Its Critics

Frances W. Pritchett
Publisher: University of California Press, 1994
ISBN-10: 8187649658; ISBN-13: 978-0520083868

This lively, compassionate book joins literary criticism with history to explain how Urdu poetry–long the pride of Indo-Muslim culture–became devalued during 19th century British rule. Using the lives and writings of the distinguished poets and critics Azad and Hali, Pritchett’s beautiful reconstruction of the classical Urdu poetic vision allows us to understand one of the world’s richest literary traditions and also highlights the damaging potential of colonialism.

Innovations and Dialogues

No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam

Reza Aslan
Publisher: Random House, 2006
ISBN-10: 0812971892 ; ISBN-13: 978-0812971897

In No god but God, Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. In this updated edition, Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East.

Traditions

On Wings of Diesel: Trucks, Identity and Culture in Pakistan

Jamal J. Elias
Publisher: Oneworld Publications, 2011
ISBN: 978-1851688111

Illustrated with beautiful color photos throughout, On Wings of Diesel takes us on a journey through the fascinating world of Pakistani truck decoration. Ornately adorned and considered as “moving art”, these trucks—veritable roving exhibitions—depict all aspects of life and support a highly developed artisanal industry. Exploring the significance of this practice, Jamal J. Elias provides a unique window on Pakistan’s complex society that addresses questions of culture and religion in a way that is both accessible and entertaining.

Traditions

Peaks of Yemen I Summon: Poetry as Cultural Practice in a North Yemeni Tribe

Steven C. Caton
Publisher: University of California Press, 1993
ISBN-10: 0520082613; ISBN-13: 978-0520082618

In this first full-scale ethnographic study of Yemeni tribal poetry, Steven Caton reveals an astonishingly rich folkloric system where poetry is both a creation of art and a political and social act. Almost always spoken or chanted, Yemeni tribal poetry is cast in an idiom considered colloquial and “ungrammatical,” yet admired for its wit and spontaneity. Drawing on his three years of field research in North Yemen, Caton explores the poet’s role and power in Yemeni society.

Traditions

Persian Poets

Peter Washington (Editor)
Publisher: Everyman’s Library (Everyman’s Library Pocket Poets), 2000
ISBN: 978-0375411267

The Middle Ages saw an extraordinary flowering of Persian poetry. Though translations began appearing in Europe in the nineteenth century, these remarkable poets–Omar Khayyam, Rumi, Saadi, Sanai, Attar, Hafiz, and Jami–are still being discovered in the West. The great medieval Persian poets owe much to the mystical Sufi tradition within Islam, which understands life as a journey in search of enlightenment, and, like their European contemporaries, they combine religious and secular themes. While celebrating the beauty of the world in poems about love, wine, and poetry itself, or telling humorous anecdotes of everyday life, they use these subjects to symbolize deeper concerns with wisdom, mortality, salvation, and the quest for God.

Engagement

Poems of Nazim Hikmet (Revised and Expanded Edition)

Nazim Hikmet (Author), Randy Blasing (Editor, Translator), Mutlu Konuk (Editor, Translator)
Publisher: Persea, 2002
ISBN-10: 0892552743; ISBN-13: 978-0892552740

A centennial volume, with previously unavailable poems, by Turkey’s greatest poet. Published in celebration of the poet’s one hundredth birthday, this exciting edition of the poems of the Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) collects work from his four previous selected volumes and adds more than twenty poems never before available in English. The Blasing/Konuk translations, acclaimed for the past quarter-century for their accuracy and grace, convey Hikmet’s compassionate, accessible voice with the subtle music, innovative form, and emotional directness of the originals.

Traditions

Poetry of the Taliban

Edited by Alex Strick van Linschoten and Felix Kuehn; Preface by Faisal Devji
Publisher: Columbia University Press, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-231-70404-5

Poetry of the Taliban draws upon both Afghan tradition and the nation’s recent past, and seamlessly connect with the long history of Persian, Urdu, and Pashto verse. The contrast between the severity of the Taliban’s ideology and its long-standing poetic tradition is nothing short of remarkable. Unrequited love, vengeance, the thrill of battle, religion, and nationalism – even a yearning for nonviolence – are expressed through images of wine, powerful women, and pastoral beauty, providing a fascinating perspective on the hearts and minds of Western civilization’s redoubtable adversaries. Two introductory essays contextualize the anthology’s poems, relating their significance to Pashtun history and their reflection of a culture inundated by thirty years of war.

Traditions

Reorientations: Arabic and Persian Poetry

Suzanne Pinckney Stetkevych (Editor)
Publisher: Indiana University Press, 1994
ISBN-10: 0253354935; ISBN-13: 978-0253354938

This excellent collection of scholarly essays on classical Arabic and Persian poetry gives the non-specialist a chance to listen in on the experts and benefit from their working translations along the way. The essays cover a broad spectrum of poetry, ranging from the pre-Islamic ode of the sixth century to seventeenth-century Safavid Moghul ghazal.

Migrations and Adaptations

Rooftops of Tehran

Sholeh Wolpé,
Publisher: Red Hen Press, 2008
ISBN 978-1-57909-110-7

“Here is a delicious book of poems, redolent of saffron and stained with pomegranate in its vision of Iran and of the immigrant life in California. Wolpe’s poems are at once humorous, sad and sexy, which is to say that they are capriciously human, human even in that they dream of wings and are always threatening to take flight”.—Tony Barnstone, award winning poet and translator.

Innovations and Dialogues

Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad

Forugh Farrokhzad (Author), Sholeh Wolpe (Translator)
Publisher: University of Arkansas Press, 2007
ISBN-10: 1557288615; ISBN-13: 978-1557288615

Forugh Farrokhzad (1935-1967) was the most significant female Iranian poet of the twentieth century, as revolutionary as Russia’s Akhmatova and Tsvetaeva and America’s Plath and Sexton. She wrote with a sensuality and burgeoning political consciousness that pressed against the boundaries of what could be expressed by a woman in 1950s and 1960s Iran. Farrokhzad died in a car accident in 1967 at the age of thirty-two. Sin is a tribute to the work and life of this remarkable poet.

Migrations and Adaptations

Song of Sabdatama (Jogja Hip-Hop feat Akala)

Song of Sabdatama (Jogja Hip-Hop feat Akala)

Innovations and Dialogues

Strange Times in Persia: An Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature

Nahid Mozaffari (Author), Ahmad Karimi Hakkak (Author)
Publisher: I B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2007
ISBN-10: 1845114175; ISBN-13: 978-1845114176

A rich and varied collection of short stories, extracts from novels, and poetry that convey an engaging but also disturbing picture of dangerous times in Iran during the late 1970s and 1980s, the book tackles controversial issues, ranging from religious freedom to misogyny to revolution to the oil trade. Poets include Ahmad Shamlu, Simin Behbahani, Nader Naderpur, and Granaz Mussavi.

Traditions

Stranger Magic: Charmed States and the Arabian Nights

Marina Warner
Publisher: Belknap Press: Harvard University Press
ISBN-10: 0253354935; ISBN 9780674055308

Stranger Magic examines the wondrous tales of the Arabian Nights, their profound impact on the West, and the progressive exoticization of magic since the eighteenth century, when the first European translations appeared. Writers from Voltaire to Goethe to Borges, filmmakers from Raoul Walsh on, and countless authors of children’s books have adapted its stories. What gives these tales their enduring power to bring pleasure to readers and audiences? Their appeal, Marina Warner suggests, lies in how the stories’ magic stimulates the creative activity of the imagination. In Warner’s hands, the Nights reveal the underappreciated cultural exchanges between East and West, Islam and Christianity, and cast light on the magical underpinnings of contemporary experience, where mythical principles, as distinct from religious belief, enjoy growing acceptance.

Engagement

Sufi Rapper: The Spiritual Journey of Abd al Malik

Abd Al Malik (Author), Jon E. Graham (Translator)
Publisher: Inner Traditions; 1st U.S. Ed edition, 2009
ISBN-10: 1594772789; ISBN-13: 978-1594772788

“This book is a little gem, full of colorful characters and uplifting incidents that have the charm of fairy stories, as well as the profundity and resonances of life tales. Most important, it is a spiritual journal of a young man, seeking the infinite to find peace. Recommended for all readers.”(Library Journal) 

Migrations and Adaptations

Taha Muhammad Ali reads “Twigs”

Taha Muhammad Ali reads an excerpt from his poem ”
Twigs”

Origins

The Children of Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, Islam: A New Edition (Princeton Classic Editions)

F. E. Peters
Publisher: Princeton University Press, 2006
ISBN-10: 0691127697; ISBN-13: 978-0691127699

Peters traces the three faiths from the sixth century B.C., when the Jews returned to Palestine from exile in Babylonia, to the time in the Middle Ages when they approached their present form. He points out that all three faith groups, whom the Muslims themselves refer to as “People of the Book,” share much common ground. Most notably, each embraces the practice of worshipping a God who intervenes in history on behalf of His people. The book’s text is direct and accessible with thorough and nuanced discussions of each of the three religions.

Traditions

The Essential Rumi

Jalal al-Din Rumi (Author), Coleman Barks (Translator)
Publisher: HarperOne, 2004
ISBN: 0-06-250959-4

Persian Sufi Jalal al-Din Rumi is today the most widely read poet in America. This is, of course, largely due to the fact that his poems and stories are simple and direct enough for their startling and passionate imagery to travel across such distances of culture and time. With over ten books of Rumi translations, Coleman Barks has established himself as the foremost translator of Rumi into English.

Rumi’s poems in their original Persian reflect a dense musicality rarely if ever found in translation. Barks acknowledges the difference in language and uses American free verse to convey a sense of the work’s simplicity. With the best of these translations beautifully collected in The Essential Rumi, in poems which are alternately ecstatic, wise, and hilarious, the prolific poet comes alive in the 20th century.

Traditions

The Garden of Heaven: Poems of Hafiz

Hafiz (Author), Gertrude Bell (Translator)
Publisher: Dover Publications, 2003
ISBN-10: 0486431614; ISBN-13: 978-0486431611

Poetry is the greatest literary form of ancient Persia and modern Iran, and the 14th-century poet known as Hafiz is its preeminent master. This collection is derived from Hafiz’s Divan (collected poems), a classic of Sufism. This 19th-century translation by historian Gertrude Bell remains widely acclaimed by scholars and readers.

Traditions

The Masnavi, Book One

Jalal al-Din Rumi (Author), Jawid Mojaddedi (Translator)
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2008
ISBN-10: 0199552312; ISBN-13: 978-0199552313

Rumi’s Masnavi is widely recognized as the greatest Sufi poem ever written, and has been called “the Qur’an in Persian.” The thirteenth-century Muslim mystic composed his work for the benefit of his disciples in the Sufi order named after him. In order to convey his message of divine love and unity he threaded together entertaining stories and penetrating homilies. Jawid Mojaddedi’s verse translation of Book One is consistent with the aims of the original work in presenting Rumi’s most mature mystical teachings in simple and attractive rhyming couplets.

Traditions

The Masnavi: Book Two

Jalal al-Din Rumi (Author), Jawid Mojaddedi (Translator)
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2007
ISBN-10: 0199212597; ISBN-13: 978-0199212590

The most influential Sufi poem ever written, the six books of the Masnavi are often called “the Qur’an in Persian”. Book Two is concerned with the challenges facing the seeker of Sufi enlightenment. In particular it focuses on the struggle against the self, and how to choose the right companions in order to progress along the mystical path. Here, Jawid Mojaddedi has translated the text into accessible rhyming couplets, as he did for Oxford’s award-winning edition of Book One.

Traditions

The Oxford India Ghalib: Life, Letters and Ghazals

Ralph Russell (Editor)
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2005
ISBN-10: 0195660374; ISBN-13: 978-0195660371

Introduced and selected by Ralph Russell, an eminent Urdu scholar, this collection presents a representative selection of the works of Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869), the most famous and popular of the Urdu poets that the Indian subcontinent has produced. This complete Ghalib anthology comprises poetry and prose translated from both Persian and Urdu, as well as biographical details.

Innovations and Dialogues

The Poetry of Arab Women

Nathalie Handal (Editor)
Publisher: Interlink Publishing Group (October 2000)
ISBN-10: 1566563747; ISBN-13: 978-1566563741

Arab women poets work within one of the oldest literary traditions in the world, yet they are virtually unknown in the West. Uniting Arab women poets from the all over the Arab World and abroad, Handal has put together an outstanding collection that showcases the work of 82 poets, among them: Etel Adnan, Andre Chedid, Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Fadwa Tuqan.

Origins

The Qur’an: Books That Changed the World

Bruce Lawrence
Publisher: Grove Press, 2008
ISBN-10: 080214344X; ISBN-13: 978-0802143440

Few books in history have been as poorly understood as the Qur’an. Sent down in a series of revelations to the Prophet Muhammad, the Qur’an is the unmediated word of Allah, a ritual, political, and legal authority, an ethical and spiritual guide, and a literary masterpiece. In this book, distinguished historian of religion Bruce Lawrence shows precisely how the Qur’an is Islam. He describes the origins of the faith and assesses its tremendous influence on today’s societies and politics. Above all, Lawrence emphasizes that the Qur’an is a sacred book of signs that has no single message.

Traditions

The Rebel’s Silhouette: Selected Poems

Faiz Ahmed Faiz (Author), Agha Shahid Ali (Translator)
Publisher: Univ of Massachusetts Press, 1995
ISBN-10: 0870239759; ISBN-13: 978-0870239755

Born in India and considered the leading poet on the South Asian subcontinent, Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) was a two-time Nobel nominee and winner of the 1962 Lenin Peace Prize. His evening readings in Hindi/Urdu-speaking regions drew thousands of listeners. This volume offers a selection of Faiz’s poetry in a bilingual Urdu/English edition with a new introduction by poet and translator Agha Shahid Ali.

Traditions

The Shahnameh: The Persian Book of Kings

Abolqasem Ferdowsi (Author), Dick Davis (Translator)
Publisher: Penguin Classics, 2007
ISBN-10: 0143104934; ISBN-13: 978-0143104933

Among the greatest works of world literature, this narrative, composed by the poet Ferdowsi in the late tenth century, tells the story of pre-Islamic Iran, beginning in the mythic time of creation and continuing forward to the Arab invasion in the seventh century. The sweep and psychological depth of the Shahnameh is nothing less than magnificent. One of the greatest translators of Persian poetry, Dick Davis, presents Ferdowsi’s masterpiece in an elegant combination of prose and verse.

Traditions

Three Mughal Poets

Ralph Russell (Author), Russell Islam (Author)
Publisher: Non Basic Stock Line, 1998 (Oxford India)
ISBN-10: 0195633911; ISBN-13: 978-0195633917

The first major flowering of Urdu literature occurred in the eighteenth century, during a time of widespread violence and disaster in which the great feudal lords of the Mughal Empire were struggling to gain control of the empire. This book presents the work of three great Urdu poets of this tumultuous time: the satires of Sauda, the masnavi (narrative poems) of Mir Hasan, and the ghazal love poems of Mir.

Engagement

Unfortunately, It Was Paradise: Selected Poems

Mahmoud Darwish (Author), Munir Akash (Translator), Carolyn Forché (Translator), Sinan Antoon (Translator), Amira El-Zein (Translator)
Publisher: University of California Press, 2003
ISBN-10: 0520237544; ISBN-13: 978-0520237544

Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008) was a literary rarity: at once critically acclaimed as one of the most important poets in the Arabic language, and beloved as the voice of his people. This collection spans Darwish’s entire career, nearly four decades, revealing an impressive range of expression and form. A splendid team of translators has collaborated with the poet on these new translations, which capture Darwish’s distinctive voice and spirit.

Migrations and Adaptations

Water’s Footfall

Sohrab Sepehri, Translated by Kazim Ali with Mohammad Jafar Mahallati
Puiblisher: Omnidawn Publishing, 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-890650-55-1

Also an acclaimed painter, Sohrab Sepehri (1928-1980) published eight books of poetry during his lifetime and traveled widely throughout the world. Many of his poems were influenced by his relationship with nature, and his studies of Eastern philosophy and visual arts and were often composed in a cadence similar to spoken language, considered a radical innovation at the time. Sepehri is considered to be one of the most important Iranian poets of the twentieth century.

Innovations and Dialogues

Western Representations of the Muslim Woman: From Termagant to Odalisque

Mohja Kahf
Publisher: University of Texas Press, 1999
ISBN-10: 0292743378 ISBN-13: 978-0292743373

With an impressive knowledge of European literature from the medieval period to the mid-nineteenth century and in command of literary and feminist criticisms as well as Islamic history, Mohja Kahf unearths and revives conveniently forgotten images of Muslim women. This fascinating genealogy—relegated to oblivion, pushed in the footnotes, forced into invisibility—reveals the evolving images of the Muslim women in the West.

Engagement

“Rais Lebled” (“President of the Country”)

“Rais Lebled” (“President of the Country”) by Tunisian rapper El Général