Mar 24, 2015

من ديوان "عصر التسلية" - رعد عبدالقادر

Sargon Boulus' Arrival In Where-city

من طبعة إنجليزية خاصة لمجموعة من قصائد ديوان "الوصول إلى مدينة أين" عام ١٩٨٢  
From a special English edition of Arrival In Where-city, printed in 1982. 

Mar 10, 2015

رسومات صلاح عناني من رواية "اللجنة" لصنع الله إبراهيم

من رسومات صلاح عناني لرواية صنع الله ابراهيم "اللجنة" - طبعة ١٩٨٢ عن مطبوعات القاهرة
Salah Enani's illustrations for Sonallah Ibrahim's The Committee (Cairo Publications, 1982).

Feb 7, 2015

Fourteen Poems from Loneliness Spoils its Victims

Dara Abdallah

Translated by: Mona Kareem

Illustration by Shuxian Lee


This might sound crazy, but isn't war nostalgic for singularity, loneliness, purity, and solitude? Isn't killing others considered "cleansing"? War is a mechanical rubbing between groups that are fighting to translate the collectivities' desire to be composed of individuals. War is the aggressive application of an instinctual longing for a purified heavenly world where the inhabitants are pseudo-elements, and quietness is an echo of loneliness. Who among us remembers the faces of those killed in massacres: in Halabja, Karm Al-Zaytoun, and Sabra and Shatila—where the hands of hundreds and thousands got together to jump from one shore to another. Their beating hearts and united breath might redeem the tragedy of a solitary individual. During a massacre, the killer misses out on the pleasure of killing one individual at a time. In massacres, hundreds of names decay, while one victim becomes a star: loneliness spoils its victims.

Feb 5, 2015

Imprisoned Poet Ashraf Fayadh’s ‘Frida Kahlo’s Mustache’

Palestinian poet Ashraf Fayadh has now gone more than a year without trial in Saudi prisons on the ostensible charge that he’s been “insulting the Godly self” through his poetry, as well as “having long hair”. Poet and activist Mona Kareem has translated one of Fayadh’s poems, posted online on Laghoo.

Frida Kahlo’s Mustache
By Ashraf Fayadh, trans. Mona Kareem

I will ignore the smell of mud, and the need to reprimand the rain, and the burn that has long since settled in my chest.
I am looking for fitting consolation for my situation, which doesn’t allow me to interpret your lips however I wish
Or to brush away the drops of mist from your reddish petals
Or to ratchet down the level of obsession that overtakes me when I realize you are not beside me at the moment.

Sep 29, 2014

‘The Complex': A Chapter from Mohammed Rabie’s Acclaimed ‘Year of the Dragon’

“The Complex” is a chapter from Mohammed Rabie’s Year of the Dragon, a novel that explores the infuriating, bizarre, and sometimes hilarious underbelly of Egyptian bureaucracy. Rabie was born in 1978, and his first novel Kawkab Anbar (2010, Amber Planet) won first prize in the Sawiris Award’s emerging writers’ category. Year of the Dragon was released in 2012. Translated by Mona Kareem

Na’em arrives at Aisha al-Taymouriya St. in Garden City, walking as he looks at the buildings, searching for their numbers. Within meters, he sees Qasr al-Nil police station on his right. He then looks across and finds building number six. He notices the huge sign atop the building with the name “The Committee of Dilemmas, Obstacles, Troubles, and Glue.”

Na’em hesitates before he enters; he wants to get the task done and return home. But now he needs to focus on the pink death certificate and forget about going home. He needs to arrange his thoughts to get this certificate. His thoughts are interrupted by a ringing voice that asks him what he needs. Na’em looks for the source of this voice.
* Continue reading here

Mar 3, 2014

الموت كتمثال

في الثالثة والعشرين من عمرك،
تصلين مع عائلتك الحزينة
وتعتقدين أنك فتاة تذهب للمطارات ولا تسافر.
تجلسين في الطائرة محاطة بجنود سود
ينامون ويحلمون بعراقيين اضطروا لقتلهم.
خلال 16 ساعة، خسرت بلدك للمرة الثانية،
بلد لا يمكن لأحد أن يحبها.

الجامعة تدفع لك راتباً أقل من الحد الأدنى
لتعلمي أبناءهم عن نساء يتزوجن بشكل تقليدي،
وعن رجال لم يكتشفوا مثليتهم.
تذهبين للفصل كأنك في مقابلة للحصول على فيزا.

هناك حياة تركتها وتعلمين أنها ستموت مثل تمثال،
وهنالك حياة في المنتصف لا تخرج من مربع skype
هذه بيوت تصلح للفئران، للصناديق، ولنا.

أن قلبك ينبض وحيداً،
أنك لا تغضبين طويلاً لأنك مشغولة بعمل الكثير،
أن كل الأشياء تتغير إذا انتظرنا بلا نهاية،
أن لا وعود يمكن إنقاذها بعد عبور المحيط.

Nov 21, 2013

Who decides how to rank Arab women?

It took Western media a few weeks after the toppling of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to bring up the question of women’s rights in relation to the Arab revolutions. The question is certainly not innocent considering the deployment of women’s issues in war propaganda and the presumed image of Arabs as incapable of intellectual revolutions that can bring about values of equality and freedom, presuming these values exist elsewhere.
The recent poll by the Thomson Reuters Foundation does not diverge from this discourse. On social media, women and men have been debating the methodology and outcomes of the poll. Although the status of Arab women did not witness any significant developments, a critique to this report is necessary to highlight how problematic these polls are, particularly when measured on “human rights.”

Sep 9, 2013

في فوائد الحداثة

قد أكون سلحفاة، 
تقودني بحقيبتك 
بينما يغزو دخانك نصف المدينة..

السلحفاة وحدها قادرة علي رؤية كل شيء
الفتاة التي ارتدت حجاباً 
لأنها تعبت من تسريح شعرها، 
الشاب الذي يجمع الفقه بالهب هوب، 
والدولة العميقة التي نستمني في حفرها..

أمي تعّرف غربتي بفقدان رائحتي التي تتوهمها، 
أنا أعّرف غربتي في علاقتي مع غسالة الملابس..

وحدها المغاسل العامة في أمريكا 
تحترم التعددية الثقافية،
فقد تغسل ملابسك بعد عدوك
واهماً بأن العرق لم يختلط!
أنا أحب المدينة،
وأحب الحداثة فعلاً، 
فقط لأنني لا أطيق الحشرات

* نشرت في أخبار الأدب

Jul 8, 2013

The Question of State-Feminism in the Gulf

The question of how the Arab uprisings have and will affect the lives and rights of women in the region is particularly significant in the Arab Gulf states.
Women in this part of the region find themselves faced with two challenges: the efficiency of state-driven feminism on one side, and their struggle to push for their rights in the public arena on the other. Both the state and social forces often fail to prioritise women's rights with the result that women are compelled to negotiate their rights within these two spheres.
In Kuwait, educated women of the upper and middle classes have fought for decades for their rights to vote and to run in parliamentary elections. In 2005, they were granted those political rights despite opposition from Islamists. Throughout their struggle, those activists recognised the state as their supporter.

The Gulf-West Alliance and Dehumanizing Bahrainis: A Conversation With Ali Abdulemam

Ali Abdulemam is a Bahraini blogger whoseBahrain Online Forum was blocked in his country. For his activism, Abdulemam was imprisoned in 2010 and tortured. In an attempt to calm the protesters of the February 14 movements, the Bahraini regime released Abdulemam. He immediately resumed his activism, calling for the end of the regime during the 2011 Pearl Roundabout protests. When the Saudi-led forces of the “Peninsula Shield” invaded Bahrain, he went into hiding to avoid living the nightmare of imprisonment and torture once again. When tried in absentia, he was sentenced to fifteen years in prison for “attempting to overthrow the regime.” Last May, Abdulemam arrived in London after being smuggled across the Bahraini-Saudi border. What follows is an interview with the activist on how he sees political developments and online activism in Bahrain.
Since you escaped from Bahrain, we have been reading heroic scenarios about you “gaining freedom.” Do you feel free?
To me, freedom does not mean exiting through that brown door that I was trapped behind during my time in hiding. Freedom has a more complex definition: to be able to object; to oppose; to think and move freely; and to be myself and not someone else. I could have been free in Bahrain, with a comfortable job, but I would not have been myself. I would be the person that the regime wants me to be and the person that the economic, political, and media elites want me to be. I, however, do not feel free because Al Saud occupies my country, and the regime—with regional and global support—has conspired against its people. My real freedom would come when Bahrainis have the freedom and ability to make their own decisions.

Jul 3, 2013

O Stones, Listen to the Music

Riyadh Alsalih Alhussain
Translated by Mona Kareem

[Riyadh Alsalih Alhussain (1954-1982) was born in the Syrian city of Dara’a on March 1954 to a poor family. Growing up as a deaf-mute, he struggled with his education and decided to quit school. He worked as a journalist from 1976 until his death in Damascus in 1982. He published three poetry collections and this poem is from his third collection “Simple as Water, Clear as a Bullet.” (Basitun kal-Ma’, Wadihun Katalqat al-Musaddas)]

The beginning is tomorrow
And tomorrow is neither a tie nor a pair of fancy shoes,
The beginning is tomorrow
And tomorrow is neither a crossword puzzle nor the Havana Conference.
The beginning is tomorrow
And tomorrow, under the guillotine or in chains,
I will call for the new life;
For the life they talk about in books,
The life we see in TV ads,
The life that sleeps on the sidewalks
Is not the life we want.