Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Crash course on Adnan Al-Sayegh

5 min film by Wooden Films, 2007, 'A passage to exile'.

Audio of short poems in Arabic spoken by Adnan Al-Sayegh and in English by his translator Stephen Watts.

Footage of the threat delivered to him in public at a Poetry Festival in Basra 2006.

Both English and Arabic typed versions are given on his Facebook page. To find it, do a search using his name.

The English lines up neatly with the Arabic. So a word on line 2 in the Arabic will be somewhere on line 2 of the English. I love translators who make it easy for learners. Or rather poets who keep ideas within the boundaries of a line.


After reading a little of his writing I get the feeling that he breathes in events and breathes out the words to react to them. He seems to have no barriers which dam up and hold onto thoughts and feelings.

Yet is this true? What is still held back, frozen beneath the surface? In any case, living or rather getting older brings an endless series of events and changes to process. Why am I even asking that question?


I did some stressing about the seminar with Adnan Al-Sayegh I want to go to. My son H wisely and wittily said I should learn the Arabic phrase for 'I don't speak Arabic' just in case I get spoken to in Arabic and haven't a clue what I have been asked. How well he knows me. Does this count as home ed or just life late at night in our kitchen? They are the same thing.

لا أستطيع أن أتكلم العربية حتى الآن


  1. Now I understand all of that phrase I got from Google Translate, apart from the second one from the right. So I am making progress. This is the only way of telling, From week to week all I see is that I forget the name of the mark 'damma' and can't understand what someone is saying to me until they say it three times and translate it into English too. Awful and embarrassing.

  2. Yes, I recognise the word for 'be able to' now, though I wouldn't come out with it when speaking.That is the 2nd word from the right. istitiya'a.

    I haven't given up Arabic for a long time now. I used to give it up totally out of sheer frustration every few months. But then I read it on Twitter and Facebook and wind up still using it so many times a day. Oh, and messaging with it for real, so I literally have no reason to give up now. Why would I do that?


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