Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

Arabic-English/English-Arabic poetry book

Reproduced below is a guest post I did for the Arabic Literature (in English) blog on a bilingual poetry book by two Scottish poets – one living in Edinburgh and the other, a Palestinian-Syrian, living in Glasgow:

As part of Scottish Book Week, the Scottish Writers’ Centre in Glasgow hosted a multi-book launch which included readings from Iyad Hayatleh and Tessa Ransford from their innovative bilingual collection of poetry, Rug of a Thousand Colours, published by Luath Press. The collection features poems written in Arabic by Iyad and in English by Tessa, and then translated collaboratively by the two of them into each other’s languages.

Each poem is on the theme of one of the pillars of Islam – although, as Iyad Hayatleh insists, this is a collection not about religion but about “Tessa and myself and how we see life through these aspects of Islam, which exist in Christianity as well”. This means that the references range from the Canterbury Tales to the birth of a first son, and the context in which Iyad and Tessa set their work at this time includes a moving dedication by Iyad, a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Syria, to his mother, who has had to flee her home in al-Yarmouk camp in Damascus.

Marc Hudson videoed the event, and separate videos of both the English and Arabic versions of the poems on ‘Testimony’, ‘Prayer’ and Pilgrimage’ can be seen on YouTube:




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