Maha Alautoom – What love does

Alautoom LE Arab Women P&W April 2024

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Live Encounters Arab Women Poets & Writers April 2024.

What love does,  poems by Maha Alautoom.

Translated from Arabic by Dr. Salwa Gouda. 

What love does

Do you know what love does with perfume?
It makes it recover the garden.

And do you know what love does to roses?
They drip their colors into butterflies
There is no difference between a butterfly and a rose
in love
There is no difference between
The metaphor of the butterflies and the roses of truth.

And do you know what love does to poetry?
It catches a sea with its fish
For a fairy in the caves of speech
Who sees in the dark
And raves:
If the waves are honest
We survive
And if the sea drowns
You are the drowned.


Women who drag out their darkness
To raise a dawn that illuminates speech.

Women who were bereaved of their chicks
To release a flock of doves.

Women of Palestine
And the women who return with their lovers’ light shrouds
From Egypt to the borders of the Levant

On them – only –

© Maha Alautoom

Maha Alautoom is a Poet and academic. She holds a PhD in Arabic Literature and Modern Criticism. She is also a member of the Jordanian Writers Association. Among her poetic works are Circles of Mud 1999, Half of It is Lilac 2006, More like Her Dreams 2010, Down the River 2013, and Upper Rooms 2019. Moreover, she received the Jordanian State Appreciation Award in 2017.

Translation by Dr. Salwa Gouda, 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.

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