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A Brand New Translated Collection from one of Africa's Leading Poets
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is one of the leading African poets writing in Arabic today. Born in Khartoum, Sudan, he has lived in exile in London since 2012. The poems in this World Poet Series book emerged in the aftermath of Al-Raddi’s arrival, when he was separated from his wife and children for nearly five years. During late, uncertain nights awake in a strange city, he would write brief, mystical, often stream-of-consciousness texts to post on Facebook, his primary means of communication with loved ones in Khartoum. These texts grew over time into A FRIEND’S KITCHEN, a profound collection that deals with both the spiritual incomprehensibility and physical reality of exile. It is rendered into English by the translator Bryar Bajalan working with Al-Raddi’s friend and fellow poet Shook.
”Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi’s new book manages to be several things at once. It’s certainly a political protestation, an act of resistance of the spirit to oppression in Sudan and to the pressures the UK places on political exiles. But it is at the same time an ecstatic, disorienting celebration of language and the imagination, and a raw, grieving set of eulogies to the loss of love, friendship and imaginative freedom … We owe his translators a great debt, in that they manage successfully to convey what anyone who has heard him read knows is the dizzying rhetorical power and force of his Arabic.” — W.N. Herbert, author of The Wreck of the Fathership
”A FRIEND’S KITCHEN by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is a dazzling gem. This poetry collection sheds light on what it means to be a poet of the diaspora, being forced into exile from his native Sudan to his new home in London as a refugee. His powerful poetry of protest and hope, skillfully translated from Arabic by Bryar Bajalan with the poet Shook, offers the reader a unique view of the land and people that have suffered so much under the regime of Omar al-Bashir. It is a book filled with grief, beauty and love, enhanced by its power of denouncement. Al-Raddi's voice is an outstanding contribution not only to African poetry but to world poetry. An extraordinary achievement.” — Leo Boix, author of Ballad of a Happy Immigrant
Review @ Arablit
Poet, translator, and filmmaker Shook was raised in Mexico City. They earned a BA at the University of Oklahoma and an MSt at Oxford University. In their debut collection, Our Obsidian Tongues (Eyewear Publishing, 2013), Shook explores the violence and hunger of everyday life, steeping their poems in lush imagery and sensory detail. In 2013, they founded the nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, since editing over 30 books translated from 26 languages, including the first ever literary translations from Uyghur and Lingala. Shook has also translated over 15 books from Spanish and Isthmus Zapotec, including Mario Bellatin's The Large Glass: Three Autobiographies (Eyewear Publishing, 2014), Víctor Terán's The Spines of Love (Restless Books, 2014), and Jorge Eduardo Eielson's Room in Rome (Cardboard House Press, 2019), a finalist for the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is one of the leading African poets writing in Arabic today. He has gained a wide audience in his native Sudan for his imaginative approach to poetry and for the delicacy and emotional frankness of his lyrics. His poetry has always been concerned with the rich cultural and linguistic diversity of Sudan and its complex history.
Saddiq was born in 1969 and grew up in Omdurman Khartoum where he lived until forced into exile in 2012. From 2006, he was the cultural editor of Al-Sudani newspaper until he was sacked from his position for political reasons (along with 22 other colleagues) in July 2012 during the uprising against the dictatorship of Omar Al-Bashir. Saddiq only escaped imprisonment because, thanks to the miraculous timing of Poetry Parnassus (the world's largest- ever gathering of international poets at which Saddiq represented Sudan), he was in the UK when a series of mass arrests took place. He successfully applied for asylum and is now living in London.
Bryar Bajalan is a writer, translator and filmmaker presently pursuing a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter. His work as a translator from the Arabic and Kurdish has appeared in Ambit, Modern Poetry in Translation and on the Poetry Foundation website, and his present projects include the translation of poets displaced from Shingal during the Islamic State's genocide of the Êzîdî and the collection of oral histories in Mosul.