Including a rich collection of literary forms ranging from poetry to performance, this issue of Shahadat offers a rare perspective into contemporary literature emerging out of Iran. Guest Editor Roger Sedarat brings together sensitive translations by a vanguard of talented young scholars and translators like Kaveh Bassiri, Samad Alavi and Aria Fani alongside established and award-winning translators, including Sholeh Wolpé. What results is a thrilling panoramic perspective of a cross section of the field that includes Maryam Habibian and Lois Becker's translation of excerpts from Gholam-Hossein Sa'adi's play The Invitation (Da'vat) which paints an fractured portrait of pre-revolutionary Iran; Bassiri brings his own poetic expertise to translations of Roya Zarrin's verse; and Fani's collaboration with Adeeba Talukder brings us poetry by the remarkable Simin Behbahani and Bijan Jalali.
The rich collection in this issue of Shahadat reflects Sousan Hammad’s unique approach to translation as a form of collective engagement and draws on the works of poets from urban milieus in Syria, Egypt, Palestine, and Lebanon that are transformed through the emotional force of poetry. From the poems of Najwan Darwish, set in an imaginary Haifa, and Alaa Khaled’s Alexandria, a city that exists in its own reveries, to the surreal dreamscape of northern Lebanon in Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s tales (translated from French by Marilyn Hacker), The City of Translation helps create, or recreate, the places that are constantly pursuing us.
This edition of Shahadat tackles story telling and history making via excerpts of Mary Choueiter's artists' book Contes féériques. The artist’s adaptation and re-reading of Lebanese history (including a cast of animal characters in allegorical roles) extends the trajectory spearheaded by leading Lebanese artists like Rabih Mroué who draw attention to the myriad conflicting stories that comprise the country’s history using performance and visual art. Through this work, the artist offers a new method for narrating Lebanese history and subverts her role as an authoritative voice by casting her story, much like Lebanon’s own history, as subjective and rife with inconsistencies.
The Summer 2012 launch of Shahadat is part of ArtEast’s Exploring Literature in Translation Series and features two translated excerpts of Sahar Mandour’s novel 32. Sahar Mandour is a highly acclaimed Lebanese novelist and both her novels, 32 and Hobb Beiruti, have received positive critical reviews internationally. In each of these excerpts, Rayya Badran has selected two excerpts from the novel and provides lush translations that capture the rhythm of the Lebanese dialect and the grain of Sahar Mandour’s authorial voice. Her style, at once elegant and acerbic, eases the reader into a sense of intimate familiarity and kinship with the city. The novel follows a pastiche of daily events and weaves together past, present and future. Mandour paints the texture and atmosphere of Beirut to deliver a sincere account of her life, her friends' lives, and the challenges of conveying the complex everyday politics.
Shahadat's Contemporary Literature in Translation Series features works in translation by six poets and writers from Gaza. This issue brings together an array of voices and forms, presenting audiences with a literary perspective on a land that has been subjected to over two decades of occupation. In his “Ode to Gaza,” celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish links Gazan literary production with its unique history: “We are unfair to her when we search for her poems. Let us not disfigure the beauty of Gaza. The most beautiful thing in her is that she is free of poetry at a time when the rest of us tried to gain victory with poems...” The works of contemporary Gazan writers translated here grapple with the personal and communal experiences of their history.
This edition of Shahadat's Exploring Popular Literature Series is a special issue on hip hop. The issue functions as liner notes to an album filled with radical potential, and features translations of sixteen hip hop tracks by artists from Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, and the Arab diaspora. Ranging from the highly political to the contemplative, these songs offer listeners and readers insight into the hopes and critiques of a generation of contemporary Arab hip hop artists.
Shahadat's Contemporary Literature in Translation Series features two short stories by London-based Jordanian author Ma'n Abu Taleb.
Where I was Standing and The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner each rely on a powerful narrative figure to convey the complex trajectory of inherited violence. Pairing these stories together highlights the differing trajectories that violence can take when mapped through the quotidian exercise of a daily run for errands, or training for a run.
Curated and Translated by Barrak Alzaid with Alex Ortiz
June 20, 2011
7:00 PM- 9:30 PM Barrow Group
312 West 36th Street 3rd floor,
New York, NY 10018
ArteEast in association with Hybrid Theatre Works and Theatre Without Borders presents Waleed Shamil (Iraq), Amir Al-Azraki (Canada/Iraq) and Shahid Nadeem (Pakistan) in conversation with ArteEast Artistic Director Barrak Alzaid.
What does it mean to generate live theatre within harsh political climates and societies in which violence is a part of every day life?
This discussion explores theatre as a tool to embody and enact alternatives to the volatile status quo. Both Pakistan and Iraq have faced considerable political shifts in the past 25 years, often marked by violence. In each of these contexts theatre has been used as a prime tool to reflect on and critique the violent apparatus of the state. Placing Amir Al-Azraki, Waleed Shamil and Shahid Nadeem in conversation with each other reveals the importance of theatre as a very real strategy to reimagine society. The discussion follows a staged reading of a selection of plays by Amir Al-Azraki and Shahid Nadeem, offering audiences in New York a lens with which to view contemporary theatre production in Iraq and Pakistan. More
This issue takes as its focus the popular literature of the Egyptian Revolution. Drawing on protest signs, graffiti, and street art in Tahrir to read the culture of resistance particular to the Egyptian Revolution, the curators examine how protesters changed the political narrative through the use of images, memorials, and expressions of daily life. Featuring examples from an extensive gallery of online images culled from the collections of several prominent Egyptian journalists and activists, the online piece is a visual tour of some of the creative production of Egypt's Revolution. A collaborative curation project split between New York City and Cairo, this is ArteEast's first critical look at the cultural production related to recent political developments in the Middle East.
Translator: Arta Khakpour
Author: Mohammad Zaree
This is a list of my most important successes:
I was born in November, 1984.
This is a list of my most important nonsuccesses:
In 2002, I wasn’t able to enter film school.
In 2004, I wasn’t able to publish my first short story collection – due to, of course, non-literary reasons which are specific to our country!
I have had other successes and failures as well.
I have received six domestic awards for short story writing. I have written several plays and screenplays, and made three short films. Twice I had the experience of directing a theatrical production, and although these were amateur endeavors for the most part, I consider them successes. I have also written a long, experimental screenplay which is currently being turned into a film in an independent context outside of the usual limitations of Iranian cinema. Likewise, I have another animated screenplay which is being produced in a non-independent context – for television.
My stories have been published several times in domestic magazines. I will be publishing my first short story collection, entitled A Disordered Collection (majmu’e-ye bi-nazm), shortly. I’m currently working on a novel which I might name Accidental Deaths (morde-haye ettefaqi).
Right now I work on scripts for radio, and, very occasionally, for television. This is my occupation but I love writing fiction more than any other work, and in my opinion, I know it better than any other work.
I graduated from Tehran University of Art with a degree in publishing and will continue my studies at the graduate level, starting this fall, in the field of dramatic literature.
Translator: Suna Kafadar
Author: Murat Uyurkulak
Murat Uyurkulak was born in 1972 in Aydın. He grew up in Izmir and currently lives in Istanbul. He dropped out of school where he was studying law and art history and has since held various positions such as darkroom technician, waiter, cook, and peddler. He was the editor of the world news section for the newspapers Radikal and BirGün. Currently he is a journalist and translator, and writes for journals such as Milliyet Sanat. He has translated a number of books into Turkish, such as Edward Said’s From Oslo to Iraq and the Road Map, Mikhail Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy, and The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power by Tariq Ali.
His first novel Tol was published in 2002 and his second one Har in 2006. Tol was widely celebrated and its poetic composition highly praised. His second book Har established his eccentric voice and a new direction in contemporary Turkish literature. His short stories were published in various short story anthologies in Turkey, France and Germany. His first novel Tol was published under the title ‘Zorn’ in German in 2008 by Unionsverlag. It is in the process of being translated to French by Galaade Editions, and to Bulgarian by Balkani along with Har. Tol was also adapted for the theatre and was directed by Mahir Günşiray. The play was staged in Germany and Poland.
A similar version of his article “Pomp and the Province,” featured in this issue of Shahadat, was published in Milliyet Sanat in January 2009.
Lukman Derky was born in Darbasiya in Northern Syria in 1966. He lived between Darbasiya, Aleppo and Damascus, where he now resides. Derky’s artistic trajectory began in the literary circle of Aleppo University in the 1980s, and he has since become a well-known figure in Syrian journalism, poetry and theater. Derky was among the founders of two publications, Alif Magazine (early 1990s) and al-Dumery (2001), a satirical newpaper. He writes a daily column, “al-Zaawiya” (The Corner) in the Syrian newspaper Beleduna (Our Country). He has worked in theater, cinema and television as writer, actor and director. He is also the founder and director of “Bayt al-Qasid” (House of Poetry), where he hosts evenings of world poetry every Monday night at Bar Dimashq.
Ortadan Yarısından, Sema Kaygusuz’ first collection of short stories, was published in 1997 by Can Publishing House. Sandık Lekesi (2000, Can), second collection of short stories won the prestigious Cevdet Kudret Literature Prize and received a wide public acclaim. Doyma Noktası (2002, Can) and Esir Sözler Kuyusu and (2004, Doğan Kitap) are the last two collections of short stories published by the author.
Her first novel, Yere Düşen Dualar (Prayers Falling on Earth), was published in March 2006 by Doğan Kitap Publishing House. In 2006, Sema Kaygusuz co-authored a movie script titled Pandora’s Box, together with Yeşim Ustaoğlu, an internationally acclaimed Turkish director known for her feature films Journey to the Sun and Waiting for the Clouds. Pandora’s Box won the Golden Shell for Best Film award at the Sebastian film Festival in 2008.
Following extensive research on the cults, rituals and popular beliefs prevailing in Turkey, she published Öbür Yanım (My Other Side), a documentary book that features, along with Sema Kaygusuz’ observations, works by renowned photographers with whom she collaborated on this project. In September 2008, Kaygusuz was invited to Berlin as part of the project Yakın Bakış (Close Glance), which is an exchange writers program between Germany and Turkey. Her observations on Berlin were published as part of this initiative.
After receiving the Marguerite Yourcenar Scholarship, she spent two months (May/June 2009) in Saint-Jans-Cappel at Marguerite Yourcenar villa to finish writing her latest novel A Place on Your Face, which came out in September 2009.
Sema Kaygusuz will spend 2010 in Berlin as part of an artist-in-residency program funded by DAAD, one of the most distinguished institutions in Germany. She holds various positions at respected institutions such as PEN (Association of Writers in Turkey) where she has been a board member; at Bilgi University and Aralık Foundation she has been holding literary workshops on ‘creative reading and writing’ since 2000; and she has been a freelance writer for Notos and Milliyet Sanat.
“Taxi Diaries,” by Naser Ghiasi, is a short story cycle narrated by an Iranian immigrant in Germany, who, like Ghiasi himself, drives a Berlin taxi to make a living while moonlighting his true passion: literature. Each chapter tells the tale of a single taxi fare, varying in length only as much as a taxi ride can. In between the tragic-comic travails of the passengers, who variously treat the driver as a therapist, captive audience, racially-profiled target of anti-immigration sentiments, or an object of exotifying, or simply innocent, curiosity, there gradually emerges a melancholy metanarrative of a soul struggling to find a meaningful human connection in a lonely, alien metropole.
Ghiasi, like his alter ego, was born in the province of Gilan in northern Iran, and has lived in Germany for the bulk of his adult life. In addition to his experience behind the wheel of a Berlin cab, Ghiasi has worked as a translator, publishing several Persian translations of German short stories, including many of Kafka’s previously unpublished (in Persian) works. “Taxi Diaries” and its sequel, “More Taxi Diaries,” are told in a simple, straightforward, dialogue-dominated prose that suits their theme and subject matter well. Ghiasi’s other works, which can be found on his website and in his first published collection, “Dance on the roofbeams of anxiety,” exhibit diversity in a variety of different styles. Experimentation with language and form makes Ghiasi’s an exciting and surprising oeuvre.
Ghiasi’s website (http://naserghiasi.com/) is well-known in the Persian blogosphere for both its literary and critical context.
“Taxi Diaries” was awarded first prize in the satire category by the Art Bureau of the Islamic Propagation Organization in 2007 More