Live Encounters Poetry & Writing February 2024.
To the person who…, poems by Gamal Ai-Qassas.
Translated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda.
To the person who…
I know you
I know the situation perfectly
I know how the mouth leans on the eyes and lips
How does the sky fold its Book?
Tear it apart on the table of this rude world
There is a difference between the past of the flower
And the past of traitors and thieves
The tenderness of my heart always precedes the sea
It knows how to clear the lake for its bird
You criminal anarchist
The intelligence of spirits does not require a blind lie
How many times have you failed to plant it in the tongues of the air?
Tuck it into a banjo coil
There is no difference between loving the country
And the love of a woman
who plays and sleeps on my lap
I am always the most beautiful loser
I am not saddened by a rotten thorn
Or an unlucky stab.
There was music here
Come on, leave the pelvis
I made you coffee and blueberry cake
I swept the memory
It would be fun to fill it again
Put dreams on the shelf
And we shout: We are here
We practice our final escape
Our feisty jelly fell
We build a small life
One day it will resemble us
It would be a nice city scene
When it’s burning.
You have not woken up yet
I do not know what this day will do now
What will it eat/what will it drink?
Will it buy new clothes
Will it go to the cinema
Or will it sit in the café
Flirting women at the mall
Yesterday it was meek as it took off its night jacket
When it counted on its fingers like a child:
The exam is over
After five clouds
After a pack of spray
After one session in the good manners workshop
After a demonstration of soul diapers
I will untie the sun knot
I would be unemployed myself
I will sleep in an oyster fragrant with the scent of the seasons
I can curl my legs
I wrinkle them
Like a poem that misspelled your eyes
I can play with them like a balloon measuring its age
With a hole reeling in the mouth of light.
© Gamal Al-Qassas
Gamal Al-Qassas (1950) is an Egyptian poet and journalist. He has published fourteen poetry collections, the most recent of which is “There was Music here” published in 2023. Selections of his poems have been translated into English, Arabic, and Greek. He also won the Cavafy International Prize in Poetry in 1998. He is considered one of the most important founders of the “Illumination 77” poetry group in the 1970s.
Translated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda. She is an Egyptian literary translator, critic, and academic at the English Language and Literature Department at Ain-Shams University. She holds a PhD in English literature and criticism. She received her education at Ain-Shams University and California State University in San Bernardino. She has published several academic books, including “Lectures in English Poetry, and “Introduction to Modern Literary Criticism” and others. She has also contributed to the translation of “The Arab Encyclopedia for Pioneers,” which includes poets and their poetry, philosophers, historians, and men of letters, under the supervision of UNESCO. Additionally, her poetry translations have been published in various international magazines.