Sarah Irving

I do things with words, mainly English and Arabic

Khalil Hawi

Khalil Hawi, Lebanese poet 1925-82, who committed suicide in response to the Israeli invasion of his country: We are from Beirut: alas, we were born With borrowed faces and with … Continue reading

June 21, 2013 · Leave a comment

Annie Laurie and Victorian sentimentality

My paternal grandfather, Tom Irving, was born on a small farm outside Maxwelltown in Kirkcudbrightshire in South-West Scotland. Maxwelltown is probably best known for being mentioned in the first line … Continue reading

May 30, 2013 · 1 Comment


I shall probably cringe with shame and delete this post later on, but this evening I’m in a wistful, nostalgic kind of mood. In the middle of having another clear-out … Continue reading

May 20, 2013 · Leave a comment

The Queen of Sheba/Kathleen Jamie

The Scottish Poetry Library has a delightful programme of publishing a set of postcards every six months, each featuring different poems or excerpts from them. One of the first I … Continue reading

May 1, 2013 · Leave a comment

New article: Palestinian-Scottish bilingual poetry collection

Electronic Intifada, 1st May 2013 In 2003, Iyad Hayatleh and Tessa Ransford met during a project to introduce Scottish and refugee poets to one another. Hayatleh is a Palestinian “double … Continue reading

May 1, 2013 · Leave a comment

Elizabeth Jennings/The Unknown Child

This poem is an old favourite, one I have kept coming back to over the years, both for its meaning and its wonderfully calm and un-ostentatious mastery of language. The … Continue reading

April 7, 2013 · Leave a comment

New review: Habibi

Electronic Intifada, 29th March 2013 More than 1,000 years ago, in the middle of the Arabian peninsula, Qays ibn al-Mulawwah fell in love with Layla bint Mahdi ibn Saad. He … Continue reading

March 29, 2013 · 1 Comment

‘Perhaps This Poem Has No End’: Reel Iraq in Edinburgh

My guest blog for ArabLit on Saturday’s ‘Found in Translation’ Iraqi/Scottish poetry event at the Scottish Poetry Library: Despite Sabreen Kadhim’s absence, we did get one of her poems, “on … Continue reading

March 25, 2013 · Leave a comment

Sabreen Kadhim and the halfwits at the UK Border Agency

I’ve had occasion to get all irate and ranty about the impact of the UK Border Agency on art in this country before. Sadly, the cluelessly racist pairing of the … Continue reading

March 24, 2013 · 4 Comments

New article: ‘Poets of Protest’ reviewed

Electronic Intifada, 28th February 2013 “All revolutions begin as poetry. Poetry and protest are inseparable twins,” says Yehia Jaber. He should know. A former fighter whose memories include patrolling the … Continue reading

February 28, 2013 · Leave a comment

Ibrahim Nasrallah, Edinburgh, 12th March

After a string of depressing things, I just got a very nice press release from the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World in Edinburgh, saying that the … Continue reading

February 19, 2013 · Leave a comment

WB Yeats/The Second Coming

Today has been One Of Those Days. I will not be boring anyone with why – the internet is cluttered up with quite enough white middle-class angst already. Instead, for … Continue reading

February 16, 2013 · Leave a comment

Burning Books (II)

A fortnight ago today, Freedom Books, London’s anarchist bookshop, was firebombed. It’s not the first time in Freedom’s 125-year history that this has happened – in 1993 the shop was … Continue reading

February 15, 2013 · Leave a comment

New article: Syria Speaks

This extended blog post on ArabLit includes reports and impressions on the Syria Speaks event at the South Bank Centre earlier this week from Nadia Ghanem and myself. The event … Continue reading

February 2, 2013 · Leave a comment

New article: Khaled Furani’s ‘Silencing the Sea’ reviewed

Electronic Intifada, 22nd January 2013 It’s impossible to capture in one review the multifaceted richness of this book. It isn’t special only because of the range of topics it interweaves … Continue reading

January 22, 2013 · Leave a comment

Haifa’s ‘path of poetry’

This is the second (possibly last, not sure yet) post expanding on some of the points from Khaled Furani’s Silencing the Sea which I couldn’t shoehorn into the proper review … Continue reading

January 21, 2013 · Leave a comment