Not a Star

Khaled Mattawa translated from the Arabic written by Adonis

copyright ©2010

Not a star, not a prophet’s inspiration
not a pious face worshipping the moon,
here he comes like a pagan spear
invading the land of alphabets
bleeding, raising his hemorrhage to the sun.
Here he comes wearing the stone’s nakedness
thrusting his prayers into caves.
Here he comes
embracing the weightless earth.

Notes on the Poem

Our Poem of the Week features our first Translation Talks guest, Khaled Mattawa, shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize in 2011 for Adonis: Selected Poems (Yale University Press), translated from the Arabic written by Adonis. Of the collection the judges said: “Adonis, along with Saadi Yousef and Mahmoud Darwish, has helped to bring into being modern Arabic poetry. Masterfully translated by Khaled Mattawa, his Selected Poems show a range comparable to Lorca’s, stretching from the sensuous to the political. When he left the Syrian socialist party in the early Sixties, Adonis left all traditional politics behind only to become committed to deep cultural transformation through the creative energies of poetry, in a quest for what could be called an Arabic modernism. In the case of his poetry, this new mode takes the form of a combination of metaphysics, interiority and solidarity, a hybrid present as well in the poetry of Rumi and the thought of Ibn Arabi.” Don’t miss Khaled Mattawa’s conversation with Sarah Riggs on Thursday, January 27th at 7pm ET. Translation Talks is a new series of conversations about translation and poetry where shortlisted and winning authors are invited to discuss their craft in company of other poets and translators. Register here.

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