A New Translation of El-Abnoudi’s ‘Writing,’ A Poem the Bard Considered Among His Best

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

Two years after the death of beloved Egyptian poet Abdel-Rahman El-Abnoudi — who passed away on April 21, 2015 — translator, author, and editor Mona Anis brings us a fresh English version of his “Writing”:

Anis, a long-time deputy editor-in chief and literary editor at Al-Ahram Weekly, interviewed El-Abnoudi back in 2008. During their talk, El-Abnoudi — one of the most best-loved Egyptian colloquial poets — mentioned “Writing,” from his 1999 collection Ordinary Sorrows, as among his best works.

“In this poem I found myself writing an obituary of my mother months before she died,” El-Abnoudi told Anis. “In 1991, I was in Ismaliya, and I found myself sitting at the kitchen table writing this poem in a single session as if it had been dictated to me.”

The poem is dedicated to the memory of El-Abnoudi’s mother, Fatma Kandil, and in it he pines for a sort of “magic writing” that could transform the universe.

From Anis’s…

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