NEA Grant Recipient!

Aug 25 2016

Melanie A. Magidow Receives NEA Literature Translation Fellowship

Fellowship will support the translation into English
of The Adventures of Dhat al-Himma

(the Arabic epic Sirat al-amira Dhat al-Himma)

 

الأميرة-ذات-الهمة

Washington, DC — Today, the National Endowment for the Arts announced that Melanie Magidow has been recommended for an NEA Literature Translation Fellowship of $12,500. Magidow is one of 23 recommended fellows for 2017. In total, the NEA is recommending $325,000 in grants this round to support the new translation of fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry from 13 different languages into English.

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“Translating a work of literature takes not only deep knowledge of another language, but also skill, artistry, and dedication,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “I am proud of the NEA’s long commitment to supporting literary translation. This art form plays an important role in providing Americans with a truly unique insight into other cultures as well as access to some of our world’s greatest writers.”

Since 1981, the NEA has awarded 433 fellowships to 383 translators, with translations representing 67 languages and 81 countries. For the complete list of FY 2017 NEA Literature Translation Fellows, visit the NEA’s website at arts.gov.

Established by Congress in 1965, the NEA is the independent federal agency whose funding and support gives Americans the opportunity to participate in the arts, exercise their imaginations, and develop their creative capacities. Through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector, the NEA supports arts learning, affirms and celebrates America’s rich and diverse cultural heritage, and extends its work to promote equal access to the arts in every community across America. For more information, visit the NEA at arts.gov.

The announcement on the NEA site is here.

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Nominated for Prize!

Aug 09 2016

Mortal Designs has been nominated for the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation! More details here. See review of the book here.

 

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Arabic Programs

Jun 21 2016

Here is my ongoing list of reputable Arabic programs for study outside of college classrooms (summer study, independent study). Please feel free to comment if you have experience with these or other programs that should be listed.

Egypt (Unfortunately, political unrest may render Egypt a poor choice for study abroad this year. Syria is not currently listed for the same reason. May Egyptians and Syrians be granted more political stability and civil rights.)

  1. Alexandria American Councils for International Education Arabic Overseas – This option provides intermediate level instruction. For U.S. or Canadian residents.
  2. Cairo

Jordan

Lebanon

  1. American University of Beirut (AUB)
  2. Beirut ALPS Beirut

Morocco

  1. Meknes AALIM
  2. Rabat

Tunisia

USA

  • California: Middlebury Language School – This option is best for beginner to advanced students who want to focus on Modern Standard Arabic.
  • Maryland: Here is another option for beginner to advanced students who want to learn spoken Arabic alongside standard Arabic, and who are unable to study abroad in the summer.
  • Texas: UT Austin provides another option for beginner to advanced students (qualified high school and college students) to study Arabic in the summer without traveling out of the United States.
  • Wisconsin: Here is a program of which I would appreciate any news and reviews.

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Arabic Teaching & Studying

Jun 21 2016

AlhambraCalligraphy

Resources for Arabic Language Teaching & Studying

Arabic Language Resources by Dialect ~ مصادر بالعربي

  • I. Egyptian ~ مصري – MelodyTV
  • II. North African ~ دارجة – Hespress News
  • III. Levantine ~ شامي
  • IV. Gulf ~ خليجي – Qatar TV

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Arts of the Arab World III: Print Culture

Jun 21 2016

EgyptianPreacherWomanPhoto of Magda Amer from BBC

 

 

 

 

 

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Resources for Arabic Literature & Culture

Note: Manuscript photo from l-Jaami‘ l-Kbiir of Meknes, Morocco.

For more on the role of literature in Arab society see here.

For SciFi, see here.

For Moroccan literature in English, see here.

Note: Manuscript painting of a library in Basra

in Al-Maqamat by Al-Hariri (1054-1122),

copied and painted at al-Wasili in Baghdad (1236).

Manuscript held in Paris, BnF.

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Arts of the Arab World II: Popular Culture & Verbal Art

Jun 21 2016

240px-Maler_der_Geschichte_von_Bayâd_und_Riyâd_002

 

 

 

 

Image of Bayad playing his oud

 

 Music

Some of my favorite contemporary Moroccan artists:

See here for a concert of psalms sung in Arabic, performed by Lebanese Catholic nun Sister Marie Keyrouz.


 Poetry and Oral Compositions

The oldest extant example of Arabic literature is poetry, composed and performed orally. Here is a 9th century poem in English translation.

See here for James Montgomery’s translations of “Horse, Hawk, and and Cheetah: Three Arabic Hunting Poems by Abu Nuwas” (from the early 9th c.)

Check out this post for spoken word of the present day.

AlJaami3AlKabiirMaknasManusQuran1

The most influential example of Arabic literature is the Qur’an, the sacred text of Islam, and it too was recited orally. German scholar Angelika Neuwirth has written of the Qur’an as a “late antique text” that emphasizes knowledge. See here for more on the implications of her work.

Note: Qur’an Manuscript photo from l-Jaami‘ l-Kbiir of Meknes, Morocco.

 


 Public Culture

In addition to poetry, aphorisms, and tales, oral culture can also include rumors that mold public discourses.

Broader than oral culture, public culture can include almost any art. Here are more resources on public culture in specific areas:

Egypt

Moroccan Malhun (Sung) Poetry

(more to be added later).

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Arts of the Arab World I: Material Culture

Jun 21 2016

I have read a lot about the glorious accomplishments of “the Arabs” or “the Muslims” in the distant past. Instead of focusing on some mythic golden age, this site includes any material culture that I find beautiful and noteworthy. So while some examples are historical, some are contemporary.

For some incredibly beautiful historic art and architecture photos and information on patterns, see here.


Photo by Radwa El Barouni, carving in Fes
FesCarvingByRadwa

Potterypottery

One of my favorite pieces of art is a blue and white lamp from the sixteenth century. For some contemporary ceramics that I think are well worth checking out, see the work of Myriam Mourabit (Rabat, Morocco).

WoodworkNadimCat

One of the most distinctive kinds of woodwork in the Arab World is mashrabiyya, latticed screens traditionally fitted together without any adhesive or hardware. Historically, they developed as a strategy for comfort and privacy so that urban families could enjoy fresh air from the outdoors without exposing themselves to public scrutiny. For contemporary woodwork, I can recommend Nadim (Cairo, Egypt).

(Photo by Ruth B.)

Painting / Drawing

One of the most valued arts throughout the Islamic world is calligraphy. See here for the highlights from a contemporary calligraphy exhibition in Malaysia. This site has featured the work of Moataz Nasr of Cairo here.

Textiles

Preview: khyamiyya appliqué (Egypt), Tally Art (southern Egypt), embroidery in Palestine and Jordan…

Jewelry

Top-of-the-line Azza Fahmy jewelry (Egypt)

More kinds of material culture to follow…

 

Photo by Radwa El Barouni

FesWindowByRadwa

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Returning to Ourselves

May 29 2016

A poem for spring–for thawing out, for growth, for warmth, for vacation. My husband and I recently learned that we are expecting a son in the fall. Facing the prospect of motherhood is complex for me: I don’t picture myself as a mother yet. Aren’t parents all grown up? This poem does a nice job, I think, of reminding all of us of our inner children, our childlike nature, perhaps our best selves…

Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 2.01.35 PM Screen Shot 2016-05-29 at 2.01.54 PMSource for English text: This Same Sky poetry collection by Naomi Shihab Nye

For Arabic text, see below (see here for source).

بين الجزر والمد
 

حين الكلمات تصير على

ألسنة الكذب هلاميّه

أتداخل في ذاتي ، أتقلّص

أنكمش وأضمر

أتجنب كلذ هلاميات الدرب –

وكلّ لزوجته البشريه

أتراجع في ذعري أتحاشى

في الدرب مراوغة الزئبق

أتماسك حتى لا أزلق

وأثبّت قدمي في أرضٍ صابونيه

أقبض كفي لا أبسطها

وأعارف ملامسة الأشياء ، أعارف البسمات

الشوهاء ، وأكفر بالانسان الثعلب

******************

لكني حين يعانقني

طفل ويلامس وجهي المتعب

الخدّ المخمل والكفّان الناعمتان

وأصابع زنبق

لم ينبت فيها مخلب

وتطلّ على قلبي عينان

كسماءٍ غسلتها في الفجر الرطب –

ملائكة الأنوار

يتمدد قلبي

يكبر قلبي

تهرب من قلبي المغلق

كل الأسوار

يتدفق فيه النهر القطبيّ-

وتنمو فيه الأشجار

يرجع من منفاه إلى

قلبي الواسع وجه الانسان

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Retelling Tradition

Apr 06 2016

I have a new translated short story online at K1N here !

The author, Somaya Ramadan, and I discussed its publication ages ago. It’s nice to have it see the light of day at last. This story comes from a fun volume titled Qalat al-Rawiya / قالت الراوية / She Said, which consists of stories written by women in Cairo with the purpose of retelling tradition, reimagining canonized stories and telling new stories with traditional flavors and new ideas.

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Love & Poetry

Feb 05 2016

One of the most inspiring couples I know of in contemporary Arabic literature are the writers Mourid Barghouti and Radwa Ashour.

radwa_and_mourid

So it was hard when Radwa Ashour passed away in 2014: I would miss her writing and her activism. And I could only imagine how much her family would miss her. One of her husband’s responses to her passage represents for me their constant attitude of gratitude and love:

I recently got the opportunity to read Barghouti’s collection of poetry, Midnight (or, my translation, Middle of the Night), available in Arabic-English parallel translation. It was another shared project for the couple, Barghouti writing the poetry and Ashour translating it to English. My comments on the collection are here. In this post, I just want to share my favorite excerpts of love poetry…

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Take me now!
Take me, no one but you, to the window of your morning
so that we can see from it together:
so I can see the roads as less arduous.
Girl, take me
that we may both become more disturbing to the institution of love
and more defiant
than I could bear to be
alone.                                       – My rendition ( p. 144)

On the value of human connection:

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Nothing equals one more hour with you. (p. 112)

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