Tuesday, June 15, 2004
  Khaled Mattawa is a Libyan poet now living in the United States. I have already posted several of his translations (Iraqi poets Fadhil al-Azzawi and Saadi Youssef) but I would like to add that he has two books of his own poetry available: Ismailia Eclipse, Sheep Meadow Press, 1995, and Zodiac of Echoes, Ausable Press, 2003.
Here is a poem from Ismailia Eclipse:

History of my face

My lips came with a caravan of slaves
that belonged to the Grand Sanussi.
In Al-Jaghbub he freed them.
They still live in the poor section of Benghazi
near the hospital where I was born.

They never meant to settle
in Tokara those Greeks
whose eyebrows I wear
-then they smelled the wild sage
and declared my country their birthplace.

The Knights of St. John invaded Tripoli.
The residents of the city
sought help from Istanbul. In 1531
the Turks brought along my nose.

My hair stretches back
to a concubine of Septimus Severus.
She made his breakfast,
bore four of his sons.

Uqba took my city
in the name of God.
We sit by his grave
and I sing to you:
Sweet lashes, arrow-sharp,
is that my face I see
reflected in your eyes? 
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poetry from countries currently embargoed by the us, and discussion of the poets, poems, and embargoes

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