Monday, 2 July 2012

Three World Poets in Translation

This is a 3rd video recording I took from an excellent and free reading-of-world-poetry-in-translation event I went to yesterday.


Mbarka Mint al-Barra' (Mauritania)

Poetry and I

The sin is that I wasn't a stone
     And the troubles of the world make me sleepless
And I shield myself with poetry
     And it keeps me company when I'm far from home
And poetry is my satchel that I will always carry with me
     It holds the taste and fragrance of the earth
It holds thickets of prickly branches
     It holds palm fronds loaded with dates
It paints all the stories of love in my language
     Its colours form the spectrum from grape to dawn
And I said bring the most beautiful of stringed instruments
     So the universe may know how music flows
And play its soothing melody
     That brings justice to those who are in love
Letters burden this world of mine
     Trouble leeches ink from the quill
Trouble leeches ink from the quill
     When I read of the longing of lovers I burn


Reza Mohammadi (Afghanistan)


There was a voice and it coursed
from a pair of parched lips,
drawing me out of my body.
The voice was despotic, uncurbed
as a horse dragging my soul
across rocks and up scree.
I don't know why the voice,
the maker, drew me as unroofed,
as a vagrant, a fool,
or why it split me in two
and then drew me from you,
sliding the earth in between us.
It sketched a door of death then
and depicted me nailed to the door -
but that wasn't enough so it rubbed us out
and started from the beginning,
drawing us in the likeness of doves,
caged in separate cages.
It wasn't enough
so it drew me with neither wings nor feathers
but it wasn't enough
so it dashed us to pieces
and drew me as your son, you as my father,
and a moment later I was a stone
and you were a star shining down on me,
making me into the most precious thing...
It wasn't enough.
It drew you as a desert and me as a breeze
on the long wander through you.
It wasn't enough. It erased us
and sketched me as a cup of tea,
full of good and full of evil,
and made you the sugar that sank in me
and got dissolved and finally we
were lifted up to a pair of parched lips
and drank


Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi (Mauritania)


Poetry - may you be a green body.
May you be a language
in which I wander
with my wings and my self.
Be the inspiration of my tongue,
so that I may pasture
the tribes of my voice - though they are silent.

and alone, I see
you will not be
a green body.
You were neither
a good master, to be bought,
nor the muse.
My longed for delirium, my memory.

A Body

The body of a bird in your mouth
breathing songs.
Raw light spills from your eyes,
utterly naked. 

You must breach the horizon, once,
in order to wake up.
You must open window after window.
You must support the walls.
I let alphabets cling to me
as I climb the thread of language
between myself and the world.
I muster crowds in my mouth:
suspended between language and the world,
between the world and the alphabets.

I let my head
listen to the myth,
to all sides praising each other.
And I shout at the winds from the top of a mountain.

Why does my tongue tell me to climb this far?
What is the distance between my voice and my longing?
What is there?

A body transcending my body.
A body exiled by desire.
A body sheltered by the wind.


  1. This was earlier in the day, before I heard about it... Rain of Poems on London's Southbank

  2. Really like the one from Reza Mohammadi, thanks.

  3. Hi Catherine. Yeah, he's supposed to be quite famous. I liked the first one best, but they're all really quality poets.

    Welcome, Lin!

    Haven't written anything myself for months, so hopefully will be inspired. I really want to do something with the I Ching, like a meditative contemplation of each hexagram. But to do this, the ego has to both make an effort to understand, yet also get out of the way! It is a shamanic oracle after all, so not sure if I can do it...