"The translation is magnificent, and the author is a revelation. Majnun Layla is a complex and layered lyrical story of love. Almost all the sensual and intellectual levels of this story end up in creating a cultural mosaic that is elegiac, supple, graceful, and profound."—Andrei Codrescu, author of whatever gets you through the night: a story of sheherezade and the arabian entertainments
"One of the most original collections of poems by the major Bahraini poet Qassim Haddad. Haddad‘s roots in the rich Arab poetic heritage are matched by an equally intimate gaze on the modern world and its contemporary idiom. With an accurate rendering of content, Ghazoul and Verlenden’s translation has an admirable fidelity to nuance, mood, and tone, remaining faithful to a collection dedicated to the eternal subject of love and its boundless wonders."—Salma Khadra Jayyusi, editor of Modern Arabic Poetry: An Anthology
"Haddad, with the deconstructing logic of a cubist painter, rescues the overly familiar Arab love story of Majnun Layla from aesthetic oblivion. What emerges is a radical innovation in Modern Arabic poetry. Ghazoul and Verlenden’s beautifully enhancing English translation presents the refreshing eye of Qassim Haddad to the English reader."—Jaroslav Stetkevych, author of The Modern Arabic Literary Language
Chronicles of Majnun Layla and Selected Poems brings together in one volume Haddad’s seminal work and a considerable selection of poems from his oeuvre, stretching over forty years. The central poem, Chronicles of Majnun Layla, recasts the seventh-century myth into a contemporary, postmodern narrative that revels in the foibles of oral transmission, weaving a small side cast of characters into the fabric of the poem. Haddad portrays Layla as a daring woman aware of her own needs and desires and not afraid to articulate them. The author succeeds in reviving this classical work of Arabian love while liberating it from its puritanical dimension and tribal overtones.
The selected poems reveal Haddad’s playful yet profound meditations. A powerful lyric poet, Haddad juxtaposes classical and modern symbols, and mixes the old with the new, the sensual with the sacred, and the common with the extraordinary. Ghazoul and Verlenden’s masterful translation remains faithful to the cultural and historical context in which the original poetry was produced while also reflecting the uniqueness of the poet’s style and his poetics.
Qassim Haddad is a Bahraini poet, notable within the Arab world for his free verse poetry. He has published more than a dozen collections of poetry and works of critical prose, and a memoir. His poems have been translated into several languages including German, English, and French.
Ferial Ghazoul is professor of English and comparative literature at the American University in Cairo. She is the editor of Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics.
John Verlenden is a writing instructor in the Department of Rhetoric and Composition at the American University in Cairo. He is the co-translator, along with Ferial Ghazoul, of Rama and the Dragon: An Egyptian Novel.
5.5 x 8.5, 0 pages