Agenda, English, Poetry, RMW Festival 2013

VersSpreken Live on ‘We’ by Ghayath Almadhoun

VersSpreken is a podcast about poetry. Four readers join in a conversation about one single poem, to discover and discuss its possible interpretations.

In this edition we will discuss a poem by one of Asmaa’s selected authors: the Palestinian/Syrian poet Ghayath Almadhoun. Ghayath Almadhoun was born in a Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. He emigrated in 2008 and has since lived in Sweden, where he was granted a permanent residence permit in March 2011. After two prizewinning collections of verse, his poems appeared in a Swedish translation for the first time in 2010 under the title Asylansökan (Ersatz Förlag). In his texts, he describes the situation of refugees, casting his eye on the countries to which exiles flee. In one poem, ‘Vi’ (‘We’), which has been made into a film by the Swedish director Marie Silkeberg, he reflects on the role of Western media, in which the victims of violence in the Middle East are depicted as “just things on TV” and are not perceived as people.
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English, RMW Festival 2013

Meet Ghayath Almadhoun


Almadhoun is a Palestinian poet en journalist born in 1979, in Damascus, Syria. In 2006 he founded, together with the Syrian poet Lukman Derky, The House of Poetry in Damascus.
In 2012 he won the Klas de Vylders Award from the Swedish Writers Union.
Many of his poems were translated into German, English, Swedish, Italian, Greek and Slovenian.

The City

Ghayath Almadhoun
Translation: Catherine Cobham.

The city resembles wrinkles wrapped around one another like the bodies of those forgotten in the prison cells of the third world, as prominent as a punctured memory, as conspicuous as feast day clothes, as brazen as the threads in a Persian carpet. This city has always fascinated me with her accumulation of layers, one layer sleeping with another, giving birth without being pregnant, a city that wears a burqa on her face and leaves her brown legs bare. The city cuts through me when I try to seduce her. As I come and go each day, I cut through her like the godfathers of the proletarian revolution cutting off the heads of the bourgeoisie, then the heads of their own friends, I cut through her with the patience of a camel, the zeal of a Kalashnikov and the appetite of a locust heading for the fields in the morning.
The city is like memories, vague, but shyly caressing reality, burdening our sleep with an increase of desire and our conscious minds with more questions and, like the funerals of strangers in strange cities, arousing pity without shaking hands with grief, moaning in the night as if afflicted by a desire to migrate and scratching the skin of our conversations with nails of obscure yearning, then slipping into bed beside us. When we used to wake up in the middle of death at the sound of her sobbing, she would cover her face with a pillow and our dreams would come crashing down.
The city is like tourists, with their rashness, digital cameras, sandals unfamiliar with the language of pavements in the cold north, heavily taxed cheerfulness, hashish cigarettes that they deny all knowledge of when they return to the land of snow and ice, the city is like them with their fake bronze colour after their bones have soaked up the sun and vitamin D, and their cameras have soaked up the city.
The city is like sellers of lottery tickets with their lifeless faces and their reports to the intelligence services following the rise in the price of bread, the city is like them as they plant dreams along the streets, promising millions to passersby, while their children are suckled on water and only win hunger.
The city resembles her seven gates, open and without surveillance like the beds of whores, closed to the tiniest ray of light like the tombs of the dead.
The city resembles Damascus.

English, RMW Festival 2013

Asmaa selects short story writer Eyad Barghuthy

Eyad Barghuthy

Eyad Barghuthy was born in Nazareth in 1980. He graduated from the Baptist High School there, then studied sociology and political science at Tel Aviv University. In 2006, he published a collection of short stories called ‘Nuduuj’ (‘Maturity’). His short story collection ‘Bayn Al-Buyuut’ (‘Among the houses’) was awarded a young writer’s motivation award by the A. M. Qattan Foundation in Ramallah in 2008 and was published by Dar Malaamih Publishers (Cairo/Beirut) in 2011.

In 2009, his tale ‘Al-Samma‘ah’ (The Headset) was awarded a prize in the Sea of Words short story competition (Anna Lindh Foundation and European Institute of the Mediterranean). Barghuthy has also written four plays and the script for a short film. He is editor for the weekly Fasl Al-Maqaal journal and Project Director for the Arab Cultural Association in Nazareth. He lives in Acre.

Read Eyad’s short story A fateful meal here:

Eyad Barghuthy -A fateful meal

English, Prose, RMW Festival 2013

Asmaa Azaizeh introduces Ala Hlehel

alaa hlelel

Ala Hlehel has published 4 books: The circus (Ramallah,2000); Stories in the time of need (Beirut, 2004); The father, the son and the lost ghost (Cairo, 2008); My secret affair with Carla Bruni (Qadita books, 2012). He was awarded first prize by the Qattan foundation 3 times and Beirut39 in 2009 for the best writers of Arab origin.

My husband is a bus driver

By Alaa Hlehel


My husband is a bus driver. He has been for more than thirty years. I met him 24 years ago. He had just qualified from the driving school in the city. On his ID they had written next to occupation: bus driver. That was sufficient, together with his beaming photograph, to tempt me into the love nest he had built for me in our beautiful remote village.

During the engagement I had dreamt day and night of the wonderful long trips and journeys we would make together, and I haven’t understood to this very day what my elder sister meant one summer night as we sat up chatting on the roof when she said to me in a low voice with a cheeky bashful grin on her face: “ The back seat of the bus is long. You’ll never forget its taste.”
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Poetry, RMW Festival 2013

Asmaa Azaizeh introduceert Najwan Darwish

(English below)

Momenteel is Asmaa Azaizeh als Palestijnse curator van Read my World 2013 auteurs aan het scouten in Palestina voor het Read My World festival in september. Op 3 maart om 15.00 uur in de OBA zal ze een eerste selectie auteurs, waaronder 4 dichters, drie romanschrijvers en een journalist, voorstellen aan het Nederlandse publiek.

Een van de dichters die zij op 3 maart zal introduceren is een van de grootste Arabische dichters van zijn generatie: Najwan Darwish. Sinds in 2000 zijn eerste bundel verscheen, werd zijn poëzie vertaald in tien talen; kort geleden verscheen er nog een Franse vertaling van een van zijn bundels, gemaakt door Antoine Jockey (Je me lèverai un jour). In 2009 werd hij tijdens het Hay Festival Beirut39 uitgeroepen tot een van de 39 beste Arabische schrijvers onder de veertig. Hij is literair adviseur van het Palestijns Festival voor Literatuur (Palfest) en stond mede aan de wieg van tal van belangrijke projecten op het terrein van de literatuur, de beeldende kunsten, het theater, opleidingen creatief schrijven, de cultuurjournalistiek en het uitgeversbedrijf in de Arabische wereld en Europa.

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Curatoren, Poetry, RMW Festival 2013

Aftrap RMW 2013: Asmaa Azaizeh over hedendaagse Palestijnse literatuur

Asmaa Azaizeh Read my World

Asmaa Azaizeh studeerde Engelse taal en journalistiek aan de Universiteit van Haifa. Ze werkte voor verschillende lokale kranten en radiostations. Momenteel is ze nieuwsredacteur en presentatrice van het radiostation Raya FM en presentatrice op de nationale Palestijnse televisie. Ook is ze cultureel zeer actief, onder andere als poëzieredacteur op de website Qadita.

Azaizeh is ook dichter. In 2010 won ze de  Young Writer Award van de Abdel Mohsen Qattan Foundation. Dit jaar verschijnt haar eerste dichtbundel onder de titel Liwa. Eerder publiceerde ze in verschillende literaire tijdschriften en bloemlezingen en trad ze op tijdens poëziefestivals.  Haar werk werd vertaald in het Engels, Duits, Persisch en Hebreeuws.

Momenteel is Asmaa als Palestijnse curator van Read my World 2013 auteurs aan het scouten in Palestina, waarvan een drietal in september zal optreden tijdens het eerste Read my World-festival in de Tolhuistuin in Amsterdam. Op 3 maart zal ze een eerste selectie auteurs, waaronder 4 dichters, drie romanschrijvers en een journalist, voorstellen aan het Nederlandse publiek tijdens een programma in de Openbare Bibliotheek van Amsterdam. De bijeenkomst in de OBA vormt de officiële aftrap van RMW 2013, het nieuwe internationale literatuurfestival van Amsterdam dat voortkomt uit een  samenwerking tussen Stichting Literaire Activiteiten Amsterdam, Stichting Perdu en Stichting School der Poëzie.