Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

New Samih al-Qasim anthology review

The Electronic Intifada, 3rd January 2017 The only two significant bodies of al-Qasim’s poetry available in translation were, until now, Sadder than Water, a fine bilingual edition from Jerusalem-based Ibis … Continue reading

January 5, 2017 · Leave a comment

New Review: Gilgamesh’s Snake and Other Poems

The Bottle Imp, 16th June 2016 Ghareeb Iskander’s own transformation of the Gilgamesh epic into a modern poem draws the original’s grandeur down to the personal scale, without rendering it … Continue reading

June 17, 2016 · Leave a comment

Reviewed: ‘La Estrella Invisible’

Electronic Intifada, 17th September 2015 On one level, these are deeply personal poems — intimate, allusive, sometimes subtly erotic. On another, though, the subtitle of the collection betrays the larger … Continue reading

December 24, 2015 · Leave a comment

Neoliberalism and higher education: a wee example from Edinburgh

As Isabel Lachenauer, one of the first – and possibly the last – graduates of the University of Edinburgh’s Advanced Arabic masters programme writes: I strongly urge the Head of … Continue reading

November 30, 2014 · Leave a comment

New review: Ruth Padel’s ‘Learning to make an Oud in Nazareth’

Electronic Intifada, 24th September 2014 The Holocaust and the extermination of Europe’s Jews usually appear in juxtaposition to the issue of Palestine either in clumsy attempts to equate the two, … Continue reading

September 24, 2014 · Leave a comment

New review: Khaled Mattawa on Mahmoud Darwish

Electronic Intifada, 1st July 2014 This isn’t a biography. Although one would be fascinating, Darwish always insisted that his poetry should represent his life story. So this book doesn’t feature … Continue reading

July 2, 2014 · Leave a comment

Nothing more violent than silence

A couple of years ago I had the honour of being invited to speak at Manchester’s beautiful John Rylands Library (the beautiful Victorian original on Deansgate, not the concrete monstrosity … Continue reading

June 23, 2014 · Leave a comment

John Glenday, Don Paterson and Isabel Rogers on editing poetry

Over on Isabel Rogers’ blog there is a lovely conversation between the wonderful poet John Glenday and poet-editor Don Paterson. (Disclaimer: I was a fan of Glenday’s writing before he … Continue reading

June 16, 2014 · 1 Comment

New review: ‘Nothing More to Lose’

Electronic Intifada, 27th May 2014 With this collection of Najwan Darwish’s poetry — beautifully translated by Kareem James Abu-Zeid — The New York Review of Books has made available to … Continue reading

May 27, 2014 · 1 Comment

New review: ‘Dear Darwish’

Electronic Intifada, 23rd May 2014 And the poetry itself is often good — moving, sophisticated. If this were a review solely based on the aesthetic quality of the poetry it … Continue reading

May 23, 2014 · Leave a comment

A Bird is Not a Stone

Since it has been one of the consuming passions of the last eighteen months of my life, it seems about time that I post something on here about A Bird … Continue reading

May 23, 2014 · 2 Comments

Taha Muhammad ‘Ali reading ‘Revenge’

I’ve lately been reading Adina Hoffman’s incredible biography of the Palestinian poet Taha Muhammad ‘Ali, entitled My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness. Here’s footage of the late, great poet … Continue reading

February 24, 2014 · Leave a comment

Rant of the week: academic book pricing

Meet the current object of my affections: This little hottie is Like Joseph in Beauty, a book on a Yemeni poetry form called Humayni. Fairly obscure stuff, I grant you, … Continue reading

August 18, 2013 · 3 Comments

Poetry from Iraq and Scotland

Sabreen Kadhim, a young poet from Baghdad who very much dispels any myths linking poetry with dowdiness and cardigans, was supposed to appear at Reel Iraq earlier this year. However, … Continue reading

August 17, 2013 · 12 Comments