A preview of the future of Arabic poetry
A new movement is emerging in Egyptian literatureurban in its energies; cosmopolitan in its national, Arabic, and western influences; and independent and rowdy in its voice. For centuries, Arabic literature mandated traditional, unchanging, highly structured language and forms. In the 1960s and 1970s, writers rebelled to write in a variety of vernaculars. Now, young Egyptian poets are inventing new ways of writing. Rejecting both traditional Arabic formalism and the vernacular rebellionand, contradictorily, drawing equally on these traditions and othersthey radically combine and recombine influences and bring new experiences into their poetry. They embrace experimentation.
Rejected at first by the literary establishment, these poets founded their own magazines, one of which appropriated a derisive term that had been used to dismiss them: Locusts. Now one of Egypt's most honored translators and writers has joined with one of those Locusts to gather a selection of this postmodern writing in one place for the first time. With its edginess and play of styles, this collection showcases a dynamic, emergent scene.
"A superb and unprecedented translation of contemporary Arabic poetry from Egypt. This volume speaks to the contemporary Arabic cultural scene by juxtaposing poetries that have generated controversyvernacular poems, prose poems, as well as new poems in the formal tongueand by boldly, carefully, and elegantly presenting a range of poetry that has not always received warm welcome in its home territory."
Marilyn Booth, translator of Nawal Sadawi's
"Enani's invaluable introduction provides the reader with essential information on the classical Arab poetic tradition vis-à-vis its practitioners on the one hand, and those who seek to break with it on the other. Not only English-speaking readers but also native Arabs not deeply immersed in their literary heritage will gain new understanding of the conflict between old and new."
Dalia El-Shayal, Department of English, Cairo University
Mohamed Enani is the founder and general editor of the State
Publishing House's translation series Contemporary Arabic
Literature, which comprises over one hundred translations.
He is the editor of both Sutour, an international
literary magazine, and the Egyptian Theater magazine.
He has been a professor of English and chair of the English
department at Cairo University and is the recipient of many
honors and awards. Mohamed Metwalli, an editor and translator,
is the co-founder and co-editor of Garad (Locusts)