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Palestinian anthology by Chichester lecturer launched at University tonight

Dr Naomi Foyle

AN INTERNATIONAL anthology of poetry about contemporary Palestinian experiences from war-torn region has been launched at the University of Chichester.

The book, A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry, was edited by English and Creative Writing Senior Lecturer Dr Naomi Foyle. It brings together new work in English and Arabic by twelve poets from the Palestinian territories, from the diaspora, and from within the disputed borders of Israel.

The Chichester launch featured readings by poet Mustafa Abu Sneineh, translator Waleed Al-Bazoon, and editor Naomi Foyle, followed by discussion and Q&A. Just the second anthology of Palestinian poetry to be published in the UK, and the first in England, the anthology is unique in translating poetry from and into both Arabic and English.

Of her role as editor Dr Foyle said: “As a non-Arabic speaker, I initially intended to solicit English translations of Arabic poems and focus my editorial skills on the English texts. But I soon realised that to be truly representative of the Palestinian experience, the book needed to include the work of exilic poets who write in English.

Poet Mustafa Abu Sneineh

“Some of these poets provided their own translations, while I commissioned other English-to-Arabic translators, including my colleague, Visiting Fellow Waleed Al-Bazoon, with whom I translated two poets from Arabic. Thanks to feedback from a small international team of contributors, who worked intensively with me over email, I feel confident in all the translations.

“I am also pleased with publisher Andy Croft’s decision to print the Arabic texts, making the reading experience familiar and enjoyable for Arabic speakers. After paginating that half of the Word document, I am happy to say that I can now at least count in Arabic.”

The book features new translations of prose-poems by Palestine's beloved poet Mahmoud Darwish, and many other leading poets, plus an introduction by the book's editor, Dr Naomi Foyle. It celebrates the flourishing cultural resistance of the Palestinian people to decades of displacement, exile, occupation and bombardment.

A portion of proceeds from the book will be donated toward the legal fees of Ashraf Fayadh and Dareen Tatour, both currently imprisoned, respectively in Saudi Arabia and Israel, on charges related to their poetry.

Dr Waleed Al-Bazoon

Dr Foyle added: “Smokestack is a small press that receives no public subsidy. As a grateful recipient of a Research Development Award, I was glad to use some of my award funds to pay contributors.

“I also ran a successful crowdfunding campaign that enabled me to increase that fee, and to make donations of £240 each to the legal funds of Ashraf Fayadh and Dareen Tatour, both of whom are in prison, respectively in Saudi Arabic and Israel, on charges relating to their poetry. Poetry books usually struggle to break even, so I am proud that A Blade of Grass, even before being published, has been able to make a significant financial contribution to the defence of basic human rights.”

To find out more on A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry visit http://smokestack-books.co.uk/book.php?book=145. Alternatively for more about Dr Naomi Foyle and her research at the University of Chichester go to www.chi.ac.uk/staff/dr-naomi-foyle or www.naomifoyle.com.