The poets come from across the East – from Morocco to Turkey, Syria to Afghanistan – and from across the West – from Germany to the USA, Estonia to Brazil. Writing in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, and English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Slovenian, each pair of poets has responded to one of the themes of the twelve books of Goethe’s original Divan, including ‘The Poet’, ‘Love’, ‘The Tyrant’, ‘Faith’ and ‘Paradise’. Working directly with the original poems or via bridge translations the English-language poets have created new poems that draw on the poetic forms and cultures of the poets taking part. Three pairs of essays enhance and complement the poems, mirroring Goethe’s original ‘Notes and Essays for a Better Understanding of the West-Eastern Divan’.
The commissioned poets included in A New Divan were chosen with the help of two principal advisors: the Mexican-British poet Michael Schmidt, director of Carcanet Press, and the German poet Joachim Sartorius, formerly overall director of the Goethe Institut. We have also been greatly helped by Samuel Shimon and Margaret Obank of Banipal (the magazine of modern Arab literature), Narguess Farzad of SOAS and Alexandra Dugdale, former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation. We are also grateful to all the poets and translators involved in the project, including those who provided literal versions for some of the English-language poets to work with.
The contributors, in alphabetical order…
Alireza Abiz is an Iranian poet, literary critic and translator living in London. He studied English Literature in Mashhad and Tehran universities and received his PhD in Creative Writing (Poetry) from Newcastle University. He has published six collections of poetry in Persian, including Black Line – London Underground and The Pomegranate of Bajestan. He has translated a number of poets including Rainer Maria Rilke, Basil Bunting, Derek Walcott, Allen Ginsberg and C.K. Williams into Persian. He has written extensively on Persian contemporary literature and culture. His scholarly book, Censorship of Literature in Post-Revolutionary Iran: Politics and Culture since 1979, is forthcoming from I. B. Tauris.
Adonis was born Ali Ahmad Said Esber in Qassabin village, Syria, in 1930. He adopted the name Adonis when he was seventeen. He has been writing poetry for more than seventy-five years and is referred to as ‘the grand old man of poetry, secularism and free speech in the Arab world’. He co-edited the influential Sh’ir poetry magazine and later established and edited the equally important Mawaqif. He is the author of many collections of poetry, and has published works of criticism, essays and translations. His work is translated into many languages, including in English Adonis: Selected Poems, An Introduction to Arab Poetics, Sufism and Surrealism, Violence and Islam and Concerto Al-Quds. He has received numerous awards, including France’s Chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur (2012), Turkey’s Nazim Hikmet Prize (1994), Germany’s Goethe Prize (Frankfurt, 2011), the US PEN/Nabokov International Literature Lifetime Achievement Award (2017) and China’s Poetry and People Award (2018).
Nujoom Alghanem is a poet, artist and film director from the UAE. She was born in Dubai in 1962, graduated from Ohio University in the USA with a BA in Video Production in 1996 and received an MA in Film Production, from Griffith University, Australia, in 1999. Although her career began in journalism, she now works as a film director and cultural consultant. An active and well-established writer and filmmaker in the Arab world, since 1989 she has published eight collections of poetry in Arabic, the most recent of which is called in English I Fall Into Myself (2012). An edition of her poems has appeared in Spanish, Lo que queda del reproche (Editorial Verbum, 2014), and a selection of poems has appeared in English in Banipal 42. She is on the board of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF) and is a regular participant in the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature.
Fadhil al-Azzawi was born in Kirkuk in northern Iraq in 1940. He studied English literature at Baghdad University and cultural journalism at Leipzig University in Germany. He edited a number of magazines in Iraq and abroad and founded the literary magazine Sh’ir 69 (Poetry 69). He was arrested many times and spent three years in prison for his political and cultural activities. He has published more than thirty books and many literary works of translation from German and English into Arabic. His poems and some of his books have been translated into many languages. Among his books in English are the poetry collection Miracle Maker (2003), translated by Khaled Mattawa, and three novels, The Last of the Angels (2007), Cell Block Five (2008) and The Traveller and the Innkeeper (2011), all translated by William Maynard Hutchins. He left Iraq in 1977 and has lived in Berlin since 1983.
Khaled Aljbaili was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1953. He studied at the Faculty of Humanities, University of Aleppo, Syria, and graduated with a BA in English Language and Literature. He obtained a Diploma in Translation at the same university. He was chief translator and interpreter at The International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas (ICARDA), Syria (1983–97). He then passed the United Nations international translators exam and worked as a translator/reviser at the UN’s Arabic Translation Service in New York (1998–2015). He has translated more than sixty books (mainly literature and history), along with hundreds of articles, booklets and short stories from English into Arabic. Currently he works as a freelance translator and lives in California, USA.
Antonella Anedda (Anedda-Angioy) is the author of six volumes of poetry as well as numerous books of essays and translations from classical as well as modern poets. Born in Rome in 1955 to a Sardinian family, the island and the archipelago La Maddalena feature often in her work, some of which is written in Logudorese. She is a lecturer at the University of Lugano. Salva con nome received the 2012 Viareggio-Repaci Prize. Others among her books have won the Montale, Dedalus, Dessi, Naples and Pushkin prizes. In 2014 Bloodaxe Books published Archipelago, a selection of her work, translated into English by Jamie McKendrick. Her most recent book of poems is Historiae.
Homero Aridjis was born in Contepec, Michoacán, in 1940 to a Greek father and a Mexican mother. Aft er nearly losing his life at age ten in a shotgun accident, Aridjis became an avid reader and began to write poetry. Many of his fifty books of poetry and prose have been translated into fifteen languages. Among the literary and environmental prizes he has received are the Xavier Villaurrutia and Diana-Novedades (Mexico), the Roger Caillois (France), the Grinzane-Cavour (Italy), the Orion Society’s John Hay Award and two Guggenheim Fellowships. He has been a visiting professor at Indiana University, New York University, Columbia University and the University of California, Irvine. Formerly Mexico’s ambassador to The Netherlands, Switzerland and UNESCO, he was president of PEN International (1997–2003). Aridjis is the founder and president of the Group of 100 – writers, artists and scientists devoted to protection of the environment. His most recent books in English translation are The Child Poet, News of the Earth, Maria the Monarch and A Time of Angels.
Daniel Barenboim is one of today’s most outstanding artists. As a pianist and conductor, he has been active for decades in major cities across Europe and all around the world; as the founder of several orchestras and the initiator of several highly acclaimed projects, he has contributed decisively to international music life. Numerous recordings attest to his great artistic stature as a pianist and a conductor. In 1999, Daniel Barenboim founded the Western-Eastern Divan Orchestra together with the Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said. Each summer, this project brings together young musicians from Israel, Palestine, and the Arab world. The orchestra seeks to foster a dialogue between the various cultures of the Middle East by way of the experience of making music together. Musicians from Staatskapelle Berlin have contributed to this project from the very beginning as mentors. He has been awarded many important prizes and honors: he has received the Große Verdientskreuz mit Stern und Schulterband, Federal Republic of Germany, an honorary doctorate from Oxford University, and has been named commander of the French Légion d’honneur. The Japanese Imperial House honored him with the Premium Imperiale, in addition he was named a United Nations Ambassador for Peace. Queen Elizabeth II bestowed upon him the title of Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.
Mourid Barghouti was born in Deir Ghassana near Ramallah, Palestine, in 1944. He has published fourteen books of poetry and his Collected Works came out in Beirut in 1997 and in Cairo 2013. A Small Sun, his first poetry book in English translation, was published by The Aldeburgh Poetry Trust (2003), translated by Radwa Ashour and W.S. Merwin, and followed by Midnight and Other Poems, also translated by Radwa Ashour (Arc Publications, 2008). In 2000 he received the Palestine Award for Poetry and his memoir I Saw Ramallah (1997) won the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature. It has since been published in several languages including English, translated by Ahdaf Soueif, with a foreword by Edward Said (American University in Cairo Press, Random House, New York, and Bloomsbury, London). It was followed by I Was Born There, I Was Born Here, translated by Humphrey Davies, with a foreword by John Berger (Bloomsbury, 2012).
Mohammed Bennis was born in Fez, Morocco, in 1948, and taught in the Faculty of Arts at Mohammed V University in Rabat (1980–2016). He is the author of forty books, among them fourteen poetry collections, some of which have been translated into French, German, Italian and Turkish, among other languages. He has also translated works from French, including the first translation into Arabic of A Throw of the Dice by Stéphane Mallarmé (Ypsilon Éditeur, Paris, 2007). In 1974 he founded the review The New Culture, and in 1985, together with other university professors and writers, he established the publishing house Dar Toubkal. In 1999, he was instrumental in the establishment UNESCO’s World Poetry Day (21 March). Among awards he has received are El Primeo Feronia (Italy, 2007), the Al Owais Award (Dubai, 2008) and the Prix Max Jacob ‘Étranger’ (France, 2014). His most recent poetry collections are Seven Birds and This Blue.
Tara Bergin was born (1974) and grew up in Co. Dublin, Ireland. The process and influence of literary translation was the topic of her PhD research, and has preoccupied much of her writing since. She is the author of two poetry collections published by Carcanet Press, This Is Yarrow (2013) and The Tragic Death of Eleanor Marx (2017), which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot and Forward Prizes, and chosen as a Best Poetry Book of the year by The Times and the Irish Times. She lives in the Yorkshire Dales and lectures part-time at Newcastle University.
Abbas Beydoun was born in the village of Sur near Tyre in southern Lebanon in 1945. He studied Arabic Literature at the Lebanese University in Beirut, later receiving a Masters in Literature at the Sorbonne in Paris. He was involved in left -wing politics and was imprisoned for a time as a young man. A poet, novelist and journalist, he has published numerous volumes of poetry, some of which have been translated into a number of European languages, including a Selected Poems in Italian, a volume in German, several books including his epic work Tyre in French, and a volume of essays. English translations of his poetry have appeared in several issues of Banipal magazine and his novel Tahlil damm (2002) was translated by Max Weiss and published under the title Blood Test (Syracuse University Press, 2008), winning the Arkansas Arabic Translation Award. He has been cultural editor of the Beiruti newspaper As-Safir since 1997.
Charlotte Collins studied English Literature at Cambridge University and worked as a radio journalist in Germany and the UK before becoming a literary translator. She was awarded the 2017 Helen & Kurt Wolff Translator’s Prize for A Whole Life by Robert Seethaler (Picador), which was also shortlisted for the Man Booker International and the International Dublin Literary Award. Her other translations include The Tobacconist, also by Seethaler, Homeland by Walter Kempowski, The End of Loneliness by Benedict Wells and Stefan Weidner’s narrative essay In the Greece of the East: A Journey through Jewish Ukraine.
Robyn Creswell graduated from Brown University in 1999 and received a PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University in 2011. He is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Yale University and the author of City of Beginnings: Poetic Modernism in Beirut. He is the translator of Abdelfattah Kilito’s The Clash of Images and The Tongue of Adam, both from the French, as well as Sonallah Ibrahim’s That Smell and Notes from Prison, from the Arabic. All three translations were published by New Directions. His essays and reviews have been published in the New Yorker, the New York Review of Books and the New York Times Book Review. He is a former fellow of the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library, and of the American Academy in Berlin, and a former poetry editor at the Paris Review.
Dick Davis was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1945. He read English Literature at Cambridge and subsequently spent eight years in Iran, where he met and married Afkham Darbandi, with whom he translated Attar’s The Conference of Birds, before completing a PhD in Medieval Persian Literature at Manchester. He taught at a number of universities in the UK and the USA, retiring from Ohio State University in 2012 as Professor of Persian and Chair of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. His award-winning translations from Persian include Vis and Ramin, Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz, among others. He has published seven collections of his own poetry, all with Anvil, including Seeing the World (1980), which won the Royal Society of Literature’s Heinemann Award for Poetry, and A Trick of Sunlight: Poems 2001–2005. His translations of poems by Fatameh Shams, When They Broke Down the Door, appeared in 2015.
Sasha Dugdale was born in Sussex in 1974. She is a poet, translator and editor and has published four collections of poetry, the most recent of which is Joy (Carcanet, 2017). Joy was a PBS Winter Choice and the collection is named aft er her long poem ‘Joy’ which won the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem in 2016. She translates poetry and plays from Russian and has worked with theatres across the UK and US on new productions of contemporary Russian drama. Her poetry translations were shortlisted for the Rossica and Popescu Prizes. She is currently working on translations of Maria Stepanova’s poems for publication by Bloodaxe in 2019. She is a former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation and co-editor of the international anthology Centres of Cataclysm (Bloodaxe, 2016).
Paul Farley was born in Liverpool and studied at the Chelsea School of Art. He is the author of four collections of his poetry including The Boy from the Chemist Is Here to See You (1998) and Dark Film (2012), and Selected Poems (2014), all published by Picador. His work has received many accolades, including the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the 2009 Jerwood Prize for Edgelands: Journeys into England’s True Wilderness (2011), co-authored with Michael Symmons Roberts. A regular broadcaster, he has written and hosted many arts features and documentaries for BBC Radio, and in 2012 presented a two-part programme called Goethe and the West-Eastern Divan for BBC Radio 3. He teaches at Lancaster University, where he is Professor of Poetry.
Narguess Farzad was born in Tehran, Iran, in 1960 and graduated with a degree in Persian Studies from SOAS, University of London. Aft er an early career at the Persian Section of the BBC World Service, and then as a civil servant, she returned to SOAS, where, as the Senior Fellow in Persian, she teaches Persian language and poetry. Her publications include Grammar of Modern Persian (Hodder), ‘Qeysar Aminpur and the Persian Poetry of Sacred Defence’ (British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies), Poems of Farzaneh Khojandi (Enitharmon), introductory chapters for the series Rumi’s Little Book of Life: The Garden of the Soul, the Heart and the Spirit; A Little Book of Mystical Secrets: Rumi, Shams of Tabriz, and the Path of Ecstasy and Little Book of Rumi, Stories of the Masnavi (Red Wheel Weiser). She regularly contributes to cultural programmes on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 and is on the editorial board of the Middle East in London.
Elaine Feinstein was born in 1930 in Liverpool. She was educated at Wyggeston Grammar School for Girls, Leicester, and won an Exhibition to Newnham College, Cambridge, in 1949. She began publishing in the 1950. Since then, she has travelled to major festivals across the globe. Her fifteenth book of poems was The Clinic, Memory (Carcanet, 2017). Her award-winning versions of Marina Tsvetaeva’s poems (OUP, 1970) was a New York Times Book of the Year and remains in print. She has written fifteen novels, many plays for radio and TV and five biographies, including Ted Hughes: The Life of a Poet and Anna of all the Russians: A life of Anna Akhmatova (both Weidenfeld). She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was a member of its Council.
Maureen Freely is a writer with seven novels to her name and many other strings to her bow. Well known as a translator of the Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, she has also brought into English several classics and works by Turkey’s rising stars. For many years she worked as a journalist in London, writing about literature, social justice and human rights. As chair of the Translator’s Association and more recently as President and Chair of English PEN, she has campaigned for writers and freedom of expression internationally. She teaches at the University of Warwick.
Angélica Freitas was born in Pelotas, Brazil, in 1973. She studied Journalism at Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul and worked for several years as a reporter in Porto Alegre and then São Paulo. She left Brazil in 2006, living temporarily in the Netherlands, Bolivia and Argentina, before returning to Pelotas, where she now lives. She is the author of two poetry collections, um útero é do tamanho de um punho (An Uterus Is the Size of a Fist) and Rilke Shake, which was translated into English by Hilary Kaplan, and won the 2016 Best Translated Book Award, granted by the University of Rochester, USA. She is also the author of a graphic novel, Guadalupe, and coedits the poetry journal Modo de Usar & Co. Her poems have been translated into French, German, Romanian and Spanish, and in English have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Granta and Poetry, among other publications.
Daisy Fried is the author of three books of poetry: She Didn’t Mean to Do It, which won the 1999 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again, a finalist for the 2006 National Book Critics Circle Award, and Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice, named by Library Journal as one of the five best poetry books of 2013. She has been awarded Guggenheim, Hodder and Pew Fellowships, a Pushcart Prize, the Cohen Award from Ploughshares, and the Editors Prize for a feature article from Poetry, for ‘Sing, God-Awful Muse’, about reading Paradise Lost, breast-feeding and the importance of difficulty. She is poetry editor for the literary resistance journal Scoundrel Time, and occasionally reviews poetry for the New York Times, Poetry and elsewhere. A member of the faculty of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, she lives in Philadelphia.
Iain Galbraith was born in Glasgow in 1956 and grew up in Arrochar on the west coast of Scotland. He now lives in Wiesbaden, Germany. His poems have appeared in Poetry Review, the Times Literary Supplement, Edinburgh Review and PN Review. After decades of publishing in magazines and anthologies, his first volume of poetry, The True Height of the Ear (Arc) appeared in 2018. Among his book-length translations are Alfred Kolleritsch’s Selected Poems (Shearsman), W. G. Sebald’s Across the Land and the Water. Selected Poems 1964–2001 (Hamish Hamilton), Jan Wagner’s Self-portrait with a Swarm of Bees (Arc) and, most recently, Esther Kinsky’s novel River (Fitzcarraldo). He has received several prizes and awards, including the Stephen Spender Prize (2014), the Popescu Prize for European Poetry Translation (2015), the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (2016) and a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant (2017).
Rajmohan Gandhi was born in New Delhi in 1935. A historian and biographer, he divides his time between India and the United States, where he is a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He first wrote on Muhammad Iqbal in Eight Lives: A Study of the Hindu-Muslim Encounter (1986). Other books by him include Gandhi: The Man, his People and the Empire (2007), Punjab: A History from Aurangzeb to Mountbatten (2013), Patel: A Life (1990) and Understanding the Founding Fathers: An Enquiry into the Indian Republic’s Beginnings (2016). In the 1990s he served as a member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of the Indian parliament.
Reem Ghanayem was born in Palestine in 1982. She is a poet, translator and researcher in the fields of Arabic and English Literature. Her PhD thesis concentrated on the theatre of the absurd and its different ways of representation. She has published two poetry collections: Mag – a Life of Exiles and Prophecies: Self Portraits. Her translations from English into Arabic include James Joyce’s Chamber Music+Pomes Pennyeach, an anthology of African American Poetry, and Richard Wright’s This Other World, as well as fiction by Charles Bukowski and William Burroughs, and Richard Wright’s Haiku book This Other World. She works as chief editor in the short story project website (https://www.shortstoryproject.com/).
Jorie Graham was born in New York in 1950. She has published fourteen collections of poetry including The Dream of the Unified Field which was awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize. Most recently she published From the New World: Selected Poems 1976–2014 and FAST. Her work is widely translated and she teaches at Harvard University, where she is Boylston professor in the Department of English and American Literature and Language. She lives in Massachusetts.
Lavinia Greenlaw was born in London in 1962. She has an MA in seventeenth-century art from the Courtauld Institute, and was the first artist-in-residence at the Science Museum. Her interest in vision, scientific process and image-making led to fellowships from Wellcome and NESTA. Her immersive soundwork Audio Obscura, received the 2011 Ted Hughes Award. Her poetry includes The Casual Perfect and A Double Sorrow: Troilus and Criseyde. Her most recent collection, The Built Moment, was published by Faber in February 2019. Her other works include Questions of Travel: William Morris in Iceland, The Importance of Music to Girls and the novel In the City of Love’s Sleep (2018). She has written for the London Review of Books, the New Yorker and Frieze among other publications.
Durs Grünbein was born in Dresden in 1962 and lives in Berlin and Rome. After the decline of the Soviet Empire he travelled in Europe, South Asia and the United States. Since 2005 he has been Professor of Poetics and Aesthetics at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. Since 2009 he has been a member of the Pour le Mérite Order for Science and Arts in Germany. He has published fifteen collections of poetry, a diary, a memoir and four
books of essays. He has also translated works by John Ashbery, Samuel Beckett, Henri Michaux and Wallace Stevens, and classic texts by Aeschylus, Juvenal and Seneca. He has received many literary prizes, including the 1995 Georg Büchner Prize, the 2004 Nietzsche Prize, the 2005 Hölderlin Prize, Italy’s 2006 Pier Paolo Pasolini Prize and Sweden’s 2012 Tranströmer Prize. His poetry has been translated into English by Michael Hofmann (Ashes for Breakfast, Faber) and Michael Eskin (Mortal Diamond, Upper Westside Philosophers, Inc.), and also into many other languages.
Kadhim J. Hassan is a poet, literary critic and translator. Born in southern Iraq in 1955, he has lived in France for more than forty years. A professor of classical Arabic literature and literary translation in Paris at the Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales (INALCO), he has translated Dante, Rimbaud and Rilke, among others, into Arabic. He has written several essays on the poetics of translation, among them La Part de l’étranger – la traduction de la poésie dans la culture arabe (Editions Actes Sud/Sindbad, 2007). In 2016, he was awarded the Gerardo de Cremona international prize for translation.
Brian Henry is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Static & Snow (Black Ocean, 2015). He co-edited the international magazine Verse (1995–2017) and established the Tomaž Šalamun Prize in 2015. His translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things (BOA Editions, 2010) won that year’s Best Translated Book Award. He also has translated Tomaž Šalamun’s Woods and Chalices (Harcourt, 2008) and Aleš Debeljak’s Smugglers (BOA, 2015). His poetry and translations have received numerous honours, including a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Howard Foundation grant, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, the Cecil B. Hemley Memorial Award, the Carole Weinstein Poetry Prize, the George Bogin Memorial Award and a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant.
Kathleen Jamie, poet and essayist, was born in the west of Scotland in 1962. Her poetry collections to date include The Tree House (2004), which won the Forward prize, and The Overhaul (2012), which won the Costa Poetry Prize. Her non-fiction includes the highly acclaimed books Findings and Sightlines, both regarded as important contributions to the ‘new nature writing’. Her most recent poetry collection, The Bonniest Companie appeared in 2015, and won the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award.
Clara Janés was born in Barcelona in 1940 and has published some forty volumes of poetry, several collections of essays and three novels. Among awards she has received are the Gold Medal of Merit in Fine Arts (2004), the Teresa de Ávila National Literary Prize (2007) and the Francisco Pino Prize for Experimental Poetry (2011). In 2014 she was enrolled as a Member of Honour by the International Centre for Transdisciplinary Research (CIRET) in Paris, and since 2015 she has been a member of the Spanish Royal Academy. She is also well known as translator of poetry, especially from Czech but also from French, English, Portuguese, Italian and, with other specialists, from Turkish and Iranian (both contemporary and ancient mystical poets). She has been awarded the Turkish Tutav Foundation Prize (1992), Spain’s National Translation Prize (1997), the First Category Medal of Merit from the Czech Republic (2000) and also the Sapere Aude prize (2017).
Fady Joudah is a Palestinian American and a practising physician who lives with his wife and children in Houston, TX. He has published four collections of original poetry and five volumes in translation from the Arabic. For his poetry and translation he has received the Yale Series prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Griffi n Poetry prize, the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation award and a PEN USA award among others. His current collection is Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance (Milkweed Editions, 2018).
Hilary Kaplan was born in Los Angeles, California. She is the translator of The Territory Is Not the Map by Marília Garcia and Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas, which won the National Translation Award and the Best Translated Book Award in 2016. Her most recent translation is 46750, a collaboration between photographer João Pina and poet Viviane Salles. She has contributed to Granta, Modern Poetry in Translation and BBC Radio 4. Her other translations of Brazilian prose and poetry include Paloma Vidal’s short story collection, Ghosts, and poems by Ricardo Domeneck and Claudia Roquette-Pinto. She studied Comparative Literature at Yale and Brown, and Creative Writing: Poetry at San Francisco State University. She received a PEN Translation Fund award and a Rumos Literatura fellowship in literary criticism from Itaú Cultural.
Jaan Kaplinski was born in 1941 in Tartu to an Estonian mother and a Polish father who disappeared in the Gulag Archipelago during the Second World War. He studied linguistics at Tartu University and worked as a researcher in linguistics, and as a sociologist, ecologist and translator from several languages into Estonian. During perestroika and the Estonian national revival he was active as a journalist both at home and abroad, and then a deputy of the Estonian Parliament (1992–5). He has lectured on the history of Western civilisation at Tartu University and published several books of poetry and essays in Estonian, Russian, Finnish and English. His work has been translated into English, Norwegian, Swedish, Latvian, Russian, Czech, Japanese, Hebrew and other languages. He has travelled in many countries, including China, Turkey, New Zealand, Peru and parts of Russia and has been awarded several literary prizes at home and abroad, among others the Vilenica prize (Slovenia), the Max Jacob prize (France) and the Russian Prize (for his book of poetry written in Russian).
Nick Laird was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, in 1975. He is a poet, novelist, screenwriter and former lawyer. His novels are Utterly Monkey, Glover’s Mistake and Modern Gods, and his poetry collections are To a Fault, On Purpose, Go Giants and Feel Free. He co-edited the anthology, The Zoo of the New with Don Paterson. Awards for his writing include the Betty Trask Prize, the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the Somerset Maugham award, the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize and a Guggenheim fellowship. His poem-film, Troubles: The Life After, a collaboration with Brian Hill, was shown on BBC2 in October 2018. He is Writer-in-Residence at New York University and Professor of Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queens University, Belfast.
Karen Leeder is a writer, translator and academic. Born in 1962, she teaches German at New College, Oxford where she works especially on modern poetry and leads the project ‘Mediating Modern Poetry’ (mmp.mml.ox.ac.uk). She translates contemporary German literature into English, including works by Volker Braun, Michael Krüger and Raoul Schrott. Her most recent translations include Evelyn Schlag’s All Under one Roof (Carcanet) which was the PBS summer translation selection (2018) and she was given an English PEN award and an American PEN/Heim award for her translations from Ulrike Almut Sandig’s Dickicht / Thick of it (Seagull, 2018). Her translations of Durs Grünbein stretch back over a decade and were awarded the Stephen Spender Prize (2011) and the John Frederik Nims Memorial Prize (2018).
Bill Manhire was born in Invercargill, New Zealand, in 1946. He was educated at the University of Otago (English literature) and University College London (Old Norse studies), and taught for many years at Victoria University of Wellington, where he led the International Institute of Modern Letters, which is home to the university’s well-known creative writing programme. He was New Zealand’s inaugural poet laureate, and in that capacity briefly visited the South Pole. He has published many books of poetry and short fiction, most recently Some Things to Place in a Coffin and The Stories of Bill Manhire. He has also edited a number of anthologies, including The Wide White Page: Writers Imagine Antarctica.
Catherine Mansfield is a translator, copyeditor and communications professional. Her translations include China’s Silent Army by Juan Pablo Cardenal and Heriberto Araújo (Penguin Press, 2013) and A History of the World for Rebels and Somnambulists by Jesú s del Campo (Telegram, 2008). She has also translated short works of fiction and non-fiction by authors including Brenda Lozano, Rafael Pérez Gay and Juan Pablo Anaya for Words Without Borders and Mexico 20 (Pushkin 2015). She is co-founder of a creative translation agency called ZigZag Translations, which she set up while living in Bogotá , Colombia; she now lives in London.
Khaled Mattawa was born in Benghazi, Libya, in 1964 and emigrated to the US in 1979, where he studied at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, taking a Masters in English and an MFA in creative writing at Indiana University. He received a PhD from Duke University and currently teaches in the graduate creative writing programme at the University of Michigan. He is the author of four books of poetry, the latest of which, Tocqueville, won the 2010 San Francisco Poetry Center Prize. Mattawa has translated eleven volumes of contemporary Arabic poetry, including Adonis’s Selected Poems and Concerto Al-Quds, Iman Mersal’s These Are Not Oranges My Love and Fadhil al-Azzawi’s Miracle Maker. His book Mahmoud Darwish: The Poet’s Arts and His Nation was a finalist for the Pegasus Prize. A MacArthur fellow, his other awards include the Academy of American Poets Fellowship prize and the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
Jamie McKendrick was born in Liverpool in 1955 and has published seven books of poetry including The Marble Fly, which won the 1997 Forward Prize, Out There which won the 2012 Hawthornden Prize and most recently Anomaly (2018), the latter two published by Faber. He edited The Faber Book of 20th-Century Italian Poems in 2004, and his translation of Giorgio Bassani’s The Novel of Ferrara was published this year. His translation of Valerio Magrelli’s poems, The Embrace (Faber, 2009) won the Oxford-Weidenfeld Prize and the John Florio Prize, and his translation of Antonella Anedda’s poems, Archipelago (Bloodaxe, 2014), also won the John Florio Prize.
Anne McLean was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1962. She has translated Latin American and Spanish novels, stories, memoirs and other writings by many authors including Héctor Abad, Javier Cercas, Julio Cortázar, Gabriel García Márquez, Juan Gabriel Vásquez and Enrique Vila-Matas. She has twice won the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, for Soldiers of Salamis by Javier Cercas (2004) and for The Armies by Evelio Rosero (2009) and twice won the Valle Inclán Prize, for Soldiers of Salamis and Outlaws (2015), both by Javier Cercas. In 2014 she shared the International Dublin IMPAC Literary Award with Juan Gabriel Vásquez for her translation of his novel The Sound of Things Falling. She was awarded the Spanish Cross of the Order of Civil Merit in 2012.
Iman Mersal was born in Egypt in 1966. She is a poet, essayist, translator and literary scholar, and Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the University of Alberta, Canada. She is the author of five books of poetry in Arabic, selections from which have been translated into several languages, including Spanish, French, Hebrew and Hindi. In English translation, her poems have appeared in Parnassus, Paris Review, The Nation, American Poetry Review and The Kenyon Review. A selection of Mersal’s poetry, entitled These Are Not Oranges, My Love, translated by the poet Khaled Mattawa, was published in 2008 (Sheep Meadow Press). Her most recent publications include an Arabic translation of Charles Simic’s memoir, A Fly in the Soup (Al Kotob Khan, 2016), and a group of essays, How to mend: on motherhood and its ghosts (Kayfa Ta and Mophradat, 2017).
Reza Mohammadi was born in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 1979. He studied Islamic Law and then Philosophy in Iran before obtaining an MA in Globalisation from London Metropolitan University. Regarded as one of the most exciting younger poets writing in Persian, his three collections of poetry have gained him many awards, including Iran’s prize for the best young poet in 1996 and 1997, an award from the Afghan Ministry of Culture in 2004 and national medals from the last two Presidents of Afghanistan. Today he is President of the Afghanistan Writers Union. In 2012 a selection of his work, translated into English by Nick Laird with Hamid Kabir, appeared as a Poetry Translation Centre Chapbook, Poems: Reza Mohammadi. He is also a prolific journalist and cultural commentator, whose articles have appeared in journals in Afghanistan and Iran, and in
English in the Guardian.
Sinéad Morrissey was born in Northern Ireland in 1972 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin. She has published six collections of poetry, all with Carcanet: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996); Between Here and There (2002); The State of the Prisons (2005); Through the Square Window (2009); Parallax (2013) and On Balance (2017). Her awards include the Irish Times Poetry Now Award (2009, 2013) and the T.S. Eliot Prize (2013). In 2016 she received the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. On Balance was awarded the Forward Prize in 2017. She has served as Belfast Poet Laureate (2013–14) and is currently Director of the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts at Newcastle University.
Hafez Mousavi was born in 1955 in the northern city of Roudbar in Iran. He studied Persian Language and Literature at Shahid Beheshti University in Tehran. He has published eight books of poetry, three books in the field of literary research and criticism and one book of fiction for children. In addition to numerous literary and critical essays and articles written for various journals in Iran, he co-founded the contemporary poetry magazine Ahang-e Digar with Shams Langeroodi and Shahab Mogharabin, founded Vazna, Iran’s first online poetry journal, and for four years was editor-in-chief of the important Iranian literary journal, Karnameh (1998–2004). He is a member of the Iranian Writers Association and teaches a poetry workshop at the independent Karnameh Institute of Arts & Culture in Tehran. English translations of his poem can be found in The Poetry of Hafez Moosavi: Middle East Poems and other Poems (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013).
Suneela Mubayi studied Arabic literature at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University, where she recently received a PhD, completing a thesis on the intersection of classical and modern Arabic poetry. She has translated poems and short stories between Arabic, English and Urdu, which have been published in Banipal, Beirut39, Jadaliyya, Rusted Radishes and elsewhere. She wishes to re-establish the position of Arabic as a vehicular language of the global South, the role it played for many centuries.
Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual Irish writer, born in Galway, Ireland, in 1981. She writes both prose and poetry, in both Irish and English, and her books explore birth, death, desire and domesticity. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, a Seamus Heaney Fellowship, and the Ostana Prize (Italy). Her latest books are Lies (Dedalus Press), which draws on a decade of her Irish language poems in translation, and 9 Silences (Salvage Press), a collaborative book with acclaimed visual artist Alice Maher. Her artistic practice often involves cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music and visual art, and she has been invited to perform her work internationally, most recently in Scotland, Paris, Italy and New Zealand. She lives in Cork with her husband and four young children.
Lulu Norman is a translator, writer and editor, with a particular interest in North African and Middle Eastern literature. Aft er studying at UCL and gaining her diploma in translation, she translated books by Albert Cossery, Amin Maalouf and Tahar Ben Jelloun, and also the songs of Serge Gainsbourg. She has written reviews and feature articles on literature and travel for the LRB, Independent, Guardian and Banipal, amongst others, and has edited titles for Saqi and Penguin Classics. Her translation of Mahi Binebine’s Welcome to Paradise (Granta) was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize in 2003 and in 2013 her translation of Binebine’s Horses of God received an English PEN Award, was runner-up for the Scott Montcrieff and was shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award and featured in World Literature Today’s 75 Notable Translations. She lives in London.
Amjad Nasser was born in Al-Turra, Jordan, in 1955 and has worked as a journalist in Beirut and Cyprus. A major force in contemporary Arab writing, he has published eight collections of poetry, two books of travel writing and two novels. Two collections of his poetry have appeared in English, Shepherd of Solitude: Selected Poems (Banipal, 2009), translated by Khaled Mattawa, and A Map of Signs and Scents (Northwestern, 2016), translated by Fady Joudah and Khaled Mattawa. His novel, first published in Arabic in 2011, appeared in English, translated by Jonathan Wright, as Land of No Rain (Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation Publishing, 2014). In the same year, he was invited to inaugurate New York University’s Gallatin Global Writers series but was denied entry to the United States by the Department of Homeland Security amid vociferous protest from PEN America Center and other organisations.
Gilles Ortlieb was born in Morocco in 1953. He studied Classics at the Sorbonne, and after a period in which he was variously employed, interspersed by trips to Greece and the Mediterranean, he spent many years in Luxembourg where he worked as a translator for the European Union. He has published some twenty books in a wide range of genres, including poems, stories, essays and notebooks; these include Soldats et autres récits, Et tout le tremblement (Le Bruit du Temps, 2014 and 2016), Place au cirque, Au Grand Miroir, Tombeau des anges (Gallimard, 2002, 2005 and 2011) and Sous le crible, Le Train des jours, Ângelo (Finitude, 2008, 2010, 2018). He has made a number of translations into French, including, from the Greek, works by Constantin Cavafy, George Seferis and Thanassis Valtinos, and from the English, by Patrick McGuinness and Stephen Romer.
Gonca Özmen was born in Burdur, Turkey, in 1982. She studied English Language and Literature at Istanbul University, receiving an MA in 2008 and a PhD in 2016. Her first poem was published in 1997 and in 1999 she received the Ali Rıza Ertan Poetry Prize. Her first collection Kuytumda (In My Nook, 2000) won the Orhan Murat Arıburnu Poetry Prize and in 2003 she received Istanbul University’s Berna Moran Poetry Prize. Her second collection Belki Sessiz (Maybe Silent) appeared in 2008 and was published in German, translated by Monika Carbe, in 2017. A selection of her poems in English, The Sea Within (Shearsman), translated by George Messo, appeared in 2011. She is a member of the advisory board of Bursa Nilüfer International Poetry Festival and the magazine, Turkish Poetry Today. She is also a member of the Three Seas Writers’ and Translators’ Council in Rhodes, Greece.
Don Paterson was born in Dundee in 1963. His poetry collections include Landing Light, Rain and 40 Sonnets, as well as versions of Machado (The Eyes) and Rilke (Orpheus); he is also the author of several books of aphorism, the most recently The Fall at Home; his critical writing includes Reading Shakespeare’s Sonnets and The Poem: Lyric, Sign, Metre. His poetry has been the recipient of several awards, including the T.S. Eliot Prize on two occasions. He is Professor of Poetry at the University of St Andrews, poetry editor at Picador Macmillan, and has for many years also worked as a jazz musician and composer.
Robin Robertson, born in 1955, is from the north-east coast of Scotland. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has published six books of poetry with Picador and received a number of accolades, including the Petrarca-Preis, the E.M. Forster Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and all three Forward Prizes. He has also edited a collection of essays, Mortifi cation: Writers’ Stories of Their Public Shame, translated two plays of Euripides, Medea and the Bacchae, and, in 2006, published The Deleted World, a selection of free English versions of poems by the Nobel laureate Tomas Tranströmer. His selected poems, Sailing the Forest, came out in 2014. In 2018 The Long Take won the Roehampton Poetry Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize.
Mariam C. Said is the widow of Edward Said. Since his death, she has been active in the running of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as Vice President of the Barenboim-Said Foundation USA. She serves on the boards of a number of cultural organizations including The Freedom Theatre in Jenin, Palestine, and ArteEast, a New York-based international non-profit organization that supports and promotes artists from the Middle East and its Diasporas. She is a founding member of the board of the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee and served on the Board of Directors of the Alumni Association of North America of the American University of Beirut. She is also an active participant in Senza Frontiere (Without Borders), a group that evaluates and recommends films for their summer film festival in Italy.
Raoul Schrott was born 1964 in Austria, grew up in Tunisia, studied in Norwich and Paris, was secretary of Philippe Soupault, gained a PhD, teaches Comparative Literature in Tübingen, Bern and Innsbruck and has received most of the major German literary awards. He is the author of many collections of poetry, including Hotels, Tropen, Weissbuch and Die Kunst an nichts zu glauben (a selection from these is forthcoming from Seagull Books); novels, including Finis Terrae, Tristan da Cunha, Die Wüste Lop Nor (published in English as The Desert of Lop by Picador); and essays. His translations include, Gilgamesh, The Iliad, Theogony and Derek Walcott’s Midsummer. His latest work is Erste Erde. Epos (forthcoming in English translation as First Earth. Epic from Seagull), narrates through different characters and voices what we know about our origins, from the Big Bang to the formation of the sun and the earth, the evolution of life up to cave paintings and the invention of writing.
Fatemeh Shams was born in Mashhad (Khorasan), Iran, in 1983. She won the silver medal in the national Olympiad of Persian literature at the age of seventeen. She completed her BA in sociology at Tehran University and migrated to the UK in 2006 to pursue higher education. In 2007, she received the Arabic language award from Bourguiba School, Tunisia, where she completed advanced level Arabic. She gained a DPhil in the field of Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford in 2015 and is currently assistant professor of modern Persian literature at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of three collections of poetry, including When They Broke Down the Door (translated into English by Dick Davis), which received the Latifeh Yarshater Book Award in 2016. She also received the Jaleh Esfahani poetry prize in 2012. Her work has so far been translated into English, Arabic and Kurdish.
Jo Shapcott was born in London in 1953 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and St Hilda’s College, Oxford, and later won a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard University. Poems from her three award-winning collections, Electroplating the Baby (1988), Phrase Book (1992) and My Life Asleep (1998) are gathered in a selected poems, Her Book (2000). She has won a number of literary prizes including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Collection, the Forward Prize for Best Collection and the National Poetry Competition (twice). Tender Taxes, her versions of Rilke, was published in 2001. Her most recent collection, Of Mutability, was published by Faber in 2010 and won the Costa Book Award. In 2011 she was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry.
Aleš Šteger was born in Pluj, Slovenia, in 1973. A poet and prose writer, he is now based in Ljubljana. His work has been widely translated and appeared in the New Yorker, Boston Review, Süddeutsche Zeitung and many other publications. In 2016 he was awarded the International Bienek Prize for poetry by the Bavarian Academy of Arts. Among other prizes the English translation by Brian Henry of his poetry collection Knjiga reči, The Book of Things (BOA Editions, 2010), won two leading US translation awards (BTBA and AATSEL). Three of his sixteen other books have been published in English translation: Berlin (stories), Essential Baggage (poetry) and Absolution (novel). He works in various artforms, including a large-scale installation at the International Kochi-Muziris Arts Biennale in India, and collaborations with musicians (Godalika, Uroš Rojko, Peter N. Gruber) and the film director Peter Zach. He is the initiator of the European platform for poetry Versopolis.
Matthew Sweeney (1952–2018) was born in Co. Donegal, Ireland. He read English and German at the Polytechnic of North London, studying for a year at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He was the author of many collections of poetry, including Cacti, The Bridal Suite and Black Moon which was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. He also wrote poetry and novels for children, including The Flying Spring Onion, The Snow Vulture and Fox. He compiled two anthologies for Faber, Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (with Jo Shapcott) and The New Faber Book of Children’s Verse. His last two books, published shortly before he died, were My Life as an Artist and King of a Rainy Country.
Mbarek Sryfi, holds a PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he is currently a lecturer in Foreign Languages. His translations have appeared in CELAAN, Metamorphoses, meadmagazine.org, World Literature Today and Banipal. He has published with Roger Allen Monarch of the Square: An Anthology of Muhammad Zafzaf ’s Short Stories (Syracuse University Press, 2014) and Zafzaf ’s The Elusive Fox (Syracuse University Press, 2016). And with Eric Sellin, Abdelfattah Kilito’s Arabs and the Art of Storytelling (Syracuse University Press, 2014) and The Blueness of the Evening: Selected Poems of Hassan Najmi (University of Arkansas Press, March 2018). His poetry has appeared in CELAAN and Poetry Ink Anthology.
George Szirtes was born in Hungary in 1948 and came to Britain as a child refugee in 1956. His first collection, The Slant Door, was joint-winner of the Faber Prize in 1979. He has published many more since then, of which Reel won the T.S. Eliot Prize in 2004 for which he has been twice shortlisted since. His most recent collection is Mapping the Delta (Bloodaxe). He has been awarded various international prizes for his own poetry as well as for his translations of Hungarian poetry and fiction, including the Man Booker International translator’s prize for his translations of László Krasznahorkai. He has written three books for children, most recently How to be a Tiger (2017). His memoir of his mother, The Photographer at Sixteen (2019), is published by MacLehose Press.
Jan Wagner was born 1971 in Hamburg and has lived in Berlin since 1995. Poet, essayist, translator (Charles Simic, Simon Armitage, Matthew Sweeney, Robin Robertson and others), he has published six poetry collections of poetry. A selection in English, Self-Portrait with a Swarm of Bees, translated by Iain Galbraith, was published in 2015 by Arc. He has received various awards, among others the Leipzig Bookfair Prize (2015) and the Georg Büchner Prize (2017).
Stefan Weidner was born in 1967. A German writer, translator and literary critic, he studied Arabic and Islamic Studies at the universities of Göttingen, Damascus, Berkeley (CA) and Bonn. He has published several volumes of fiction, travel writing and essays. Among the Arab authors he has translated are Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish and Ibn al-Arabi. From 2001 until 2016 he was editor-in-chief of Art&Thought – Fikrun wa Fann, a cultural magazine published in English, Arabic and Farsi (www.goethe.de/fi krun). His most recent book is Jenseits des Westens. Für einen neuen Kosmopolitismus (Beyond the Conceptions of the West. For a New Kind of Cosmopolitanism). His awards include the 2006 Clemens-Brentano Prize, the 2007 Johann-Heinrich-Voss Prize and the 2014 Paul-Scheerbart Preis. He is a member of the German Academy of Language and Poetry and a founding member of the Academy of the Arts of the World in Cologne.
Sibylle Wentker was born in Bonn in 1967 and studied Arabic, History and Turkology at the University of Vienna, Austria, receiving a PhD in Arabic Studies in 2002 with a dissertation on the Arabic Physiologus text. From 2005 she worked as librarian and researcher at the Institute of Iranian Studies, Austrian Academy of Sciences, and from 2014 she was additionally head of the Library, Archives and Collection of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. In August 2018 she was appointed Director of International Relations, Fellowships and Awards, and Research Funding at the Austrian Academy of Sciences. Her main research interests include the German translation of the Tarikh-e Wassaf by Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, the intellectual history of European historiography concerning the ‘Orient’ (specifically Persia), Mamluk-Ilkhanid historiography and the history of Austrian-Iranian relations in the nineteenth century.
Shaun Whiteside was born in Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, in 1959. He has translated numerous books from German, French, Italian and Dutch, most recently the novels To Die in Spring by Ralf Rothmann, Black Water Lilies by Michel Bussi and Malacqua by Nicola Pugliesi, as well as works of non-fiction including Swansong 1945 by Walter Kempowski, Blitzed by Norman Ohler and Football by Jean-Philippe Toussaint. He has taken translation workshops at the British Centre for Literary Translation, Birkbeck University and City University, and within the Emerging Translators programme organised by New Books in German, and has reviewed for journals including the Guardian, the Observer and the Times Literary Supplement. He lives in London with his family.
Frank Wynne was born in Sligo, Ireland, in 1962. He has been a literary translator for twenty years. Th e authors he has translated include Michel Houellebecq, Virginie Despentes, Tomá s Gonzá lez and Javier Cercas. His work has earned him the IMPAC Prize (2002), the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize (2005), and he has twice been awarded both the Scott Moncrieff Prize and the Premio Valle Inclá n. He has been translator in residence at Lancaster University, City University and the Villa Gillet, Lyon.