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Banipal Magazine - Issue 20

Banipal Magazine - Issue 20

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Banipal takes its name from Ashurbanipal, last great KIssue 20 features the great Iraqi poet, Saadi Youseef "I have trained myself, hard, to be free" In this interview, Saadi Youssef speaks about his relations with Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, his admiration of the Greek poet Cavafy and his enduring passion for translation. He speaks at length about al-Sayyab and the poets he loves and it was with difficulty that I persuaded him to talk about himself, he is such a modest man.

Iraq is the home of modernity in Arab poetry and Saadi Youssef is indeed a rightful inheritor of this unique heritage, and more; through his experimentation and his continual "learning" from other literatures he is extending this heritage. His translator, Khaled Mattawa once remarked how rare it was "to see a poet growing in experimentation as he grows in age".

He has lived nearly half his life outside Iraq, but rejects the label of exile in favour of resident of the world, which allows him the independence of mind he requires for writing freely. Since the mid-1970s Saadi Youssef has been, and still is, hugely influential among younger generations of Arab poets through his way of writing, and as a man with a life-long commitment to justice and human rights. He is a "poet of universality and multiple open visions" noted Lebanese poet Abbas Beydhoun, "enabling us to discover the poetics of the real world".

Over the last fifty years he has published 32 collections of his own poems and translated many works of major international poets and fiction writers. Now, with the publication of Without an Alphabet, Without a Face, his first major collection in English, translated by Khaled Mattawa (Greywolf Press, 2002) English-language readers can get to know Saadi Youssef themselves. We hope a second volume witll be forthcoming.


Mahmoud Shukair: Two short stories –
Shakira’s Picture and Mordechai’s Moustaches and his Wife’s Cats
Mohammed Al-Harthi: Six Poems
Introduced by Saadi Youssef
Rabia’a al-Ossaimi: A poem Family Photo
Ahmed El-Madini: A short story The Laws of Absence

Advance Notice > > BANIPAL LIVE First-ever UK Tour of Arab authors 29 October – 13 November 2004

Ibrahim Saadi: A short story – Confessions of a Man Coming from the Dark
Ali Bader: Excerpt from the novel The Naked Feast
Aziz Azrhai: Seven Poems
Samuel Shimon: The Hedgehog – a chapter from an autobiographical novel

Abdu Khal: Establishing an Aesthetic
Ali Zalah: The Progress of the Novel in Saudi Arabia
Turki al-Hamad: Two chapters from Shumaisi
Laila al-Juhni: “Jeddah is Sinking” – an excerpt from The Waste Paradise
Youssef al-Mohaimeed: Two chapters from Traps of Scent
Abdu Khal: Three chapters from Times Spares No One
Khalid Kishtainy: Ghazi Algosaibi A MAN OF MANY PARTS
Zainab Hifni: Excerpt from No More Tears
Abdullah al-Taezi: A Note on the Saudi Novel
Abdullah al-Taezi Excerpt from Al-Hafa’ir still Lives

Peter Clark: The first three novels of Naguib Mahfouz – Khufu’s Wisdom, Rhapodis of Nubia and Thebes at War
James Kirkup: Poems of Chawki Abdelamir L’Obélisque d’Anaïl, Winner of the Max Jacob International Poetry Prize, 2004
Mona Zaki: Yawm al-Din [Judgement Day] by Rasha al-Ameer
Emad Fouad: on Paravion by Hafid Bouazza, Winner of Belgium’s 2004 Golden Owl Prize

Mahmoud Shukair: Hemingway in Palestine