Monday, October 15, 2012

Poet Without Borders

Palestinian-American poet Fady Joudah, a practicing physician in the ER unit of a VA Hospital in Houston, Texas, published his first poem while working abroad for Doctors Without Borders in Zambia (he has also worked for that organization in Sudan).

Winner of Yale University's Younger Poets Series prize, Joudah will visit with major Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan tomorrow October 16th (rescheduled from April 10th).

Joudah served as translator for Zaqtan's first collection in English, Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me (2012) from Yale University Press.

Joudah was profiled and interviewed by David Thies in the Texas Observer in 2008:

"Poetry comes from a pre-evolutionary space," he says when asked about the origins of his work. He looked back to the Arabic poetry he had shared with his father and began working at translating the cadence-the feel-of that language into English. "I told myself that if I could reproduce that childhood cadence in English, I could be a poet."

Why didn't he write poetry in his native Arabic? Joudah describes the decision to write in English as an embrace and a rebuke. Writing in English is "a way to embrace the world," he says, and a riposte to the "Orientalist" view of Arabic culture that it is exotic and underdeveloped. More.