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To Accompany the Arabic Portfolio from Sudan
Explore our collected resources and lesson plans related to literary translation in general, and to Arabic literature in translation, in particular.
“Connecting What Has Been Severed with Sudan: The Short Story as it Fills Voids with Imagining“; Arabic Fiction Editor Hisham Bustani discusses the challenges and joys of putting together Issue 19’s portfolio of stories from Sudan.
Translator Elisabeth Jaquette speaks with Emily Everett about four stories she translated for the portfolio as part of The Common‘s podcast series, “This is the Place.” Jaquette discusses the delights and difficulties of translating from Arabic, as well as her thoughts on form, style, and satire in literature from the Arab world.
Marcia Lynx Qualey explores censorship in Sudan and how short stories bypass the political and cultural borders maintained by the State (via Lit Hub); Eiman El-Nour further explores the significance of the short story in contemporary Sudanese literature (in Research in African Literatures via JSTOR, login required).
Ahmad Al Malik and Tarek Eltayeb discuss Sudan’s rich literary tradition, government censorship, and smuggling literature into the country (via ArabLit Quarterly).
Bushra Elfadil explores the hierarchization of Sudanese literature and the philosophy that informs and sustains his work (via PEN Canada). After winning the Caine Prize in 2017, Elfadil spoke at the Library of Congress about writing Sudanese sci-fi and Western conceptions of the genre (watch via ArabLit Quarterly). Also over at ArabLit, contributor Lemya Shammat discusses Elfadil’s colorful wordplay and linguistic experimentation.
Lemya Shammat discusses how writers can challenge homogeneous depictions of war, as part of a panel of Sudanese writers on storytelling during conflict (via The Guardian). For ArabLit Quarterly, Shammat explores gender stereotypes in Sudanese fiction, highlighting works by women that challenge patriarchal pressures, and also discusses the brutal assault on the sit-in site at the gates of Khartoum’s military headquarters, which had become Sudan’s largest creative hub, and the art and poetry of Sudanese protesters.
For students interested in further reading, Jamal Mahjoub, writing for The Guardian, suggests ten books about Sudan.
For further exploration, here and elsewhere
Interviews with the Editor in Chief: Jennifer Acker discusses The Common, the role of place in literature, and the editorial process.
Tara Skurtu speaks with Managing Editor Emily Everett as part of our podcast series. Skurtu discusses her Issue 19 poem, “Offering” and the inspiration and process behind the poem, as well as her thoughts on teaching creative writing, and her time studying with poet Louise Glück. This conversation also includes the story behind the International Poetry Circle, an online poetry-reading initiative Skurtu started on Twitter in the early days of the pandemic. After reading “Offering” and listening to Emily and Tara’s conversation, students might try their hand at Tara Skurtu’s guided writing exercise on memory (via Best American Poetry), keeping in mind the poet’s 5 misconceptions about creative writing (via HuffPost). See also: in this video, Skurtu explores why poetry is important and the way language lends itself to poetry at the 2016 The Power of Storytelling conference.
As part of The Common‘s podcast series David Moloney speaks with Emily Everett about his Issue 19 story “Counsel,” an excerpt from Moloney’s novel-in-stories, Barker House, set in a correctional facility in New Hampshire. Moloney discusses his own experiences as a correctional officer in a New Hampshire facility, and the work of turning those complex experiences into stories for the novel. Read more short fiction from David Moloney: “Dzole, Our Champion” in Guernica.
Omer Friedlander joins our podcast to discuss his Issue 19 story “Operation Tamar,” which is set in Israel, where Friedlander grew up. Friedlander talks about the setting and inspiration for this story, and the editing and revision that went into “Operation Tamar” before publication. Read more fiction by Friedlander in the Baltimore Review, where he depicts childhood on the Gaza border.
To accompany Bina Shah’s story, “Weeds and Flowers,” read about the Afghan refugee crisis that shapes the lives of the story’s main characters (via Foreign Policy). In this opinion piece in the New York Times, Bina Shah discusses the women’s movement in Pakistan and society’s acceptance of patriarchy.
In addition to her own writing, Thoraya El-Rayyes is an award-winning translator of Arabic literature; read Thoraya El-Rayyes’ translations elsewhere in our pages. Learn more about El-Rayyes work as a translator: She and The Common‘s Arabic Fiction Editor Hisham Bustani (whose work El-Rayyes has translated) talk with ArabLit about process, influence, genre, boundaries, and translational acts, and in an interview in Malahat Review, El-Rayyes discusses her path to translation.
Students writing personal essays that delve into sibling and family relations will find much of interest in Tanya Coke’s “Brother Love” and Suraj Alva’s “Nothing More Human”; consider pairing these pieces with Zak Breckenridge’s “Fraternity” from Issue 13.
Kendra Greene delves into her own work at museums (via Uncrated), providing some context for her essay on the Icelandic Phallological Museum; read more about the museum in The Atlantic.
Leslie McGarth illuminates what it means to write political poetry in this interview with Lisa C. Taylor (via Word Peace).
James Richardson offers advice for young poets and discusses his favorite form—the aphorism (via CopperNickle). See also: Richardson on W. S. Merwin’s work (via The New Yorker) and Nancy Mitchell on Richardson’s aphorisms and ten-second essays (via Plume).
Read an excerpt from another collaboration between Don Share and John Kinsella; after reading these examples, students might undertake their own collaborations.
After reading Mira Rosenthal’s “Waiting on Forty-Five (A Ghazal),” students can learn more about the form at Poets.org. See also: Rosenthal discusses her work as a translator (via Center for the Art of Translation), as well as being drawn to poetic form in Subtropic, where students can read one of her sonnets, “Sublet, Pay-Later System.”
See all of Issue 19.
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