Nizar Sartawi

Nizar Sartawi is a poet, translator, essayist, and columnist. He was born in Sarta, Palestine, in 1951. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Jordan, Amman, and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Development from the University of Minnesota, U.S. Sartawi is a member of the Jordanian Writers Association, General Union of Arab Writers, and Asian-African Writers Union. He is also a member of the Poetry Posse, and an organizing member of C.O.P.s for World Healing, World Peace Poetry in the U.S. He has participated in poetry readings and international forums and festivals in Jordan, Lebanon, Kosovo, Palestine and Morocco.

Sartawi’s first poetry collection Between Two Eras was published in Beirut, Lebanon in 2011. His poetry translations into Arabic include: The Prayers of the Nightingale, selected poems by Indian poet Sarojini Naidu (2013); Fragments of the Moon, selected poems by Italian poet Mario Rigli (2013); The Souls Dances in its Cradle, selected poems by Danish poet Niels Hav (2015); Searching for Bridges, selected poems by American poet Margaret Saine (2016); and The Talhamiya, selected poems by Palestinian poet Nathalie Handal (2016). Sartawi’s Arabic poetry translations into English include Contemporary Jordanian Poets, Volume I (2013); The Eyes of the Wind, selected poems by Tunisian poet Fadhila Masaai (2014); The Birth of a Poet, selected poems by Lebanese poet Mohammad Ikbal Harb (2015, 2016); Haifa and other Poems, selected poems by Palestinian poet Samih Masaud (2016); and The Pearls of Grief, selected poems by Lebanese poet Abdulkarim Baalbaki (2016).

Sartawi has been working for the last four years on a translation project, “Arab Contemporary Poets Series.” So far he has completed 13 books. He also has translated poems for a number of international poets including: American poets Veronica Golos and Elaine Equi; American-African Poet William S. Peters; American-Indian poet Kalpna Singh-Chitnis; American Palestinian Naomi Shihab Nye; Afghanistani poet Zohra Saed; Canadian poet Candice James; Canadian-Indian poet Ashok Bhargava; Filipino poets Santiago Villafania and Virginia Jasmin Pasalo; Iranian poet Rosa Jamali; Italian poet Maria Concetta Arezzi; Japanese poet Taro Aizu; Kosovar poets FahredinSheho, Jeton Kelmendi and SaliBytyqi; Macedonian poet Pande Manoylov. Sartawi’s poems have been translated into several languages. His poetry has been anthologized and published in books, journals, and newspapers in Arab countries, the U.S., Australia, Indonesia, Bosnia, Italy, the Philippines, and India. He writes a monthly column for Inner Child Magazines under “International Poetry Affairs.”

 

 

 Land of the Vineyards

For Fahredin Shehu

 

 

Rahovec O Rahovec

blessed child of Dardania

to you I came

with my naïve poems

and simple dreams.

 

And there I was… in your bosom

as my eyes wandered

among the hills

and vales

that girded your slim waist

with vineyards –

the vineyards

where the Maenads dwelt   

and turned every vine

into a little shrine.

 

My eyes fell

on the hanging grapes

that glittered like pearls

under the September sun

 

And there and then

I found me drunken,

and the whole world turning

before my eyes

into a giant poem

 

 

The Cunning Angelle… A song for Rahovec

 

 

O Rahovec,

little cunning angel that you are!

 

Didn’t you in the days of old

invite the reckless son of

mortal Semele

into your sacred land

to wine and dine

amidst your divine

vines

and take the secret recipe

back to Olympus?

 

And didn’t the Gods,

drunken with your hallowed

nectar,

crowned him god of viticulture

and holy wine?

 

 

 

On the Road to Freedom

 

But you, Kosovo, though you’re small

among the clans of Illyria,

though your body was perforated

your bare feet lacerated

bathing in your own blood,

you marched on the road to freedom

stepping on thorns and barbs.

 

And now:

The boisterous drums

that terrified your little ones…

NO MORE

 

The heavy boots

that on your silent roads

trod…

NO MORE

 

 

The alien winds

that broke the limbs of your

grapevines…

NO MORE

 

 

Asclepius

has healed your wounds

 

The angels

are singing your praises

 

Your glory

to heaven will rise

 

And your wine

will forever and ever flow.

 

 

 

Poems in English and Arabic

 

My Shadow

 

Oh how you tire me out my shadow

you, a deformed ghost

of the pain dwelling within my ribs…!

How you push me to hide in the dark for fear

Of you…!

 

When your gloomy ominous

attenuated image

chases me

or your clumsy shape

painted on my path

gets ahead of me

I feel I’m trotting

in front of you

or behind you

against my will

that you are pricking my neck

or pulling me from my nose

And if you beside me walk

I feel you are a monster lying in wait for me

 

about

to

rise up

on his feet

like a ghoul,

and leap

upon me

and put me

to death

 

All day long I tell

myself:

When my hour comes tomorrow

or after tomorrow

no doubt the angel of death will come

for me alone

and will forget you…

and you will attend my funeral

and take part in my burial

 

And when I am laid to rest inside the earth

and all my friends leave

you’ll linger a while above my grave

to gloat over my misfortune

and laugh out loud

then go away

 

Who knows whom you will accompany

after me!

to whom the bad luck will be passed!

a human like me, haunted with his premonitions

or a ferocious monster…?

îîî

 

ظلّي

 

كم ترهقني يا ظلّي

يا هذا الشبحُ الشائِهُ

للوجعِ الساكنِ بين ضلوعي…!

كم تدفعني أن أتوارى في العتمة فَزَعاً

منكْ…!

 

حين تلاحقُني

صورتُكَ الناحلةُ السوداءُ

المشؤومةُ

أو تسبقُني هيأتكُ الخرقاءُ

المرسومةُ

فوق طريقي

أشعرُ أني أعدو

قُدّامَكَ

أو خلفَكَ

رغمًا عني

أنّك تنخزُني في عنقي

أو تسحبُني من أنفي

وإذا بمحاذاتي سرتَ

أحسُّ بأنّك وحشٌ يتربّص بي

 

يوشكُ

أنْ

ينهضَ

منتصبًا

كالغولِ

وينقَضَّ

عليَّ

ويُزهقَ

روحي

 

طوالَ اليومِ أحدّث

نفسي:

حين يحينُ الحَيْنُ غدًا

أو بعد غدٍ

حتماً سيجيءُ ملاكُ الموتِ

إليّ أنا وحدي

وسينساكَ…

وأنّكَ سوف تُشَيّع جثماني

وتشارك في دفني

 

أنّك حين أُوارى في بطن الأرض

ويرحلُ كلُّ الأصحاب

ستمكثُ فوق القبرِ قليلًا

كي تشمتَ بي

وتقهقهَ سخريةً مني

ثم تغادرُ مبتعدًا

 

مَنْ يدري مَنْ ستُرافقُ

من بعدي!

مَنْ سَيؤولُ إليه الحظُّ العاثرُ!

إنسانٌ مثلي مسكونٌ بهواجسه

أم  وحشٌ كاسر…؟

 

 

 

The Poem

 

How long will you keep hiding

in the womb of the unknown

a sheepish shadow

haunted with perplexed agitation

with whom the sun no secrets shares

nor is she seduced with the sparks of stars

or with the murmurs of the moon

 

And how could you stay in retreat

a phantom

without a breathing body

a lump of flesh

within the walls of a cocoon

a form

whose composition has no details

in the tome of destiny

 

How long will you remain a blurred voice?

a mumbling

unknown by alphabets

a humming

without

the dance of strings

 

And how could you endure to be

a subject

waiting for

the predicate

 

 

 

القصيدة

 

إلامَ اختباؤكِ

في رَحِم الغيب

ظِلًّا خجولًا

يخامره قلقٌ حائرٌ،

شَبَحًا تائهًا

لا تشاطره الشمسُ أسرارها،

لاتراوده خلجاتُ النجوم

ولا همساتُ القمرْ؟

 

علامَ اعتكافك ِ

طيفًا

بلا جسدٍ تتصاعد أنفاسُه

مضغةً

بين جدران شرنقةٍ

هيئةً

لم تُدوّن تفاصيلُ تكوينها

في سجلِّ القدرْ

 

إلامَ تظلّين صوتًا خفيَّ الملامح

همهمةً

لا تميزّها الأبجديةُ

دندنةً

لا ترافقها

رقصاتُ الوترْ

 

علامَ بقاؤُك

مبتدأً

يتلبّث علّ يجيءُ

الخبرْ

 

 

Stars

 

Oh these stars that

linger

a while

before they go away

to regard me with their glitters

so shy

 

Are they secretly

reproaching me

or sly

making a date with me

or bidding my mournful heart

goodbye

 

îîî

 

نجوم

 

يا لهذي النجوم التي

تتريّثُ

قبل الرحيلِ

ببضعِ ثوانٍ

لترمقَني بوميضٍ

ضنينْ

 

أتراها تعاتبُني

خِفيةً

أم تواعدُني

خِلسةً

أم تراها تودّعُ قلبي

الحزينْ

 

 

Containment
My sails are wandering aimlessly.
I’ve never thought my passion would be lost
for the sands of the shore
hidden in the grip of fate,
that the waves would rob me of my sensibility
the spray would capture my eyesight
my memory would go obscure
and all my nostalgia will melt
for swords and bridges,
for shops, for taverns and women,
for terrains,
fields
seasons
moons
and ancient monuments.
And I’ve never reckoned

as the engulfing hurricanes swooped on the boat
that I’d I feel numb,
my limbs would shrink thus,
my features would be erased,
and I’d be contained by the moment of mist
the moment of presence
between the soaring of seabirds over my head
and the swirling of whales under my skeleton

 

îîî

 

 

 

احتواء

 

أشرعتي تهيمُ

ما ظننتُ

أن تضيع لهفتي

إلى رمال الشاطئِ

المخبوءْ

في قبضةِ القدرْ

أن تسلبَ الأمواجُ

خاطري

ويأسرَ الرذاذُ

ناطري

وأن تغيب الذاكرةْ

وأن يذوبَ عنديَ

الحنين كُلُّهُ

إلى السيوفِ

والجسورْ

إلى الحوانيتِ،

إلى الحانات والنساء

إلى التضاريسِ

إلى الحقولِ

والفصولِ

والأقمارِ

والمعالمِ القديمةْ

وما حسبتُ –

والأعاصيرُ المحيقاتُ

قد انقضّت على المركبِ –

أن أحسَّ بالخدرْ

أن تضمحلَّ هكذا

جوارحي

وتمّحي ملامحي

وتحتويني

لحظةُ السديمِ

لحظةُ الحضورْ

ما بين تحليقِ طيورِ البحرِ

فوق هامتي

وحومة الحيتانِ

تحت هيكلي

 

 

 

Leaf

 

Little lonely leaf

knocking on the glass door

with your whole feeble

form

gaping at me

begging for

refuge!

 

 

Poor purplish fragile fugitive

Tired –

of running away

from nook to nook?

Threatened –

by the ruthless autumn wind

and unheralded rain?

Frightened –

by the heavy plodding pedestrian feet

the hideous hooves

and horrendous hoops?

 

 

Come in

tiny timid tramp!

Let’s sit

side by side

to tell silently our sad story

and voicelessly lull each other

to sleep.

 

 

… For I too

am but a deciduous

leaf

counting the days

before its fall

 

îîî

 

ورقة

 

أيتها الورقة الصغيرة المتوحدة

تطرقين الباب الزجاجي

بجسدك الواهن كله

تحدقين بي

ملتمسةً ملجأً يأويك

 

أيتها الهاربة الأرجوانية الضئيلة المسكينة

أمتعبة أنت

من الفرار

من زاوية إلى أخرى

تحت تهديد

رياح الخريف القاسية

والمطر الذي يأتي بلا استئذان؟

أخائفة أنت

من أقدام المشاة الغليظة المتثاقلة

الحوافر البشعة

والعجلات المرعبة؟

 

ادخلي

أيتها المتشردة الخجولةّ

هلمّ بنا لنجلس

معًاجنبًا إلى جنب

لنحكي بصمت قصتنا الحزينة

ونهدهد بعضنا بعضًا

إلى أن نغفو

 

… فأنا  أيضًا

لست سوى ورقةٍ

متساقطة

تّعُدُّ الأيام

قبل أن يحين سقوطها.

 

 

 

Words

 

Words wordswords

Here and there

I walk

They walk

I hop

They hop

I run

They run

I slow

They slow

I stop

They stop

 

 

I stretch my hand

to catch them

they flap their wings

and fly away

îîî

 

كلمات

 

كلمات كلمات كلمات

 

تتناثر من حولي

أمشي…

تمشي

أقفز…

تقفز

أعدو…

تعدو

أبطئ…

تبطئ

أتوقف

تتوقف

 

وأمد يدي كي ألقفها

فيرفّ جناحاها

وتطير محلقة في الآفاق

 

Lovers

 

Upon the saddle of passion wewere

together

wandering

your fragrance filling my soul

my hands afloat

among you velvet thickets

relaxed in your alabaster

courtyards

yielding to your bouncing

pomegranates

and losing themselves

 

I throw my sail

amidst the waves of

doom

and there we are

two blazing phantoms

beyond the mist

that dwells

upon the lip of scarlet

twilight

Lightenings flashed

Thunders crashed

The earth was shaken in a final

quake

and then we died

îîî

 

 

عاشقان

 

على صهوة الوجد كنّا

معاً

تائهَيْنِ

عبيرُكِ يحتلُّ روحي

يدايَ تَطوفان بين خمائلِك المخمليةِ

تسترخيان بباحاتك المرمرية

تستسلمان لرمّانِك المتوثب

ثمّ تضيعانِ

 

أُلقي بساريتي

في عُباب الهلاكِ

ونحن هناك

خيالان يشتعلانِ

وراءالسديمِ المقيمِ

على شفة الشفق القرمزي

ولاحت بروق

ودوت رعود

وزلزلت الأرض زلزالها

ثم متنا

 

 

Messenger pigeon

 

A messenger pigeon

shuttles

between us

taking from me

a kiss

a sigh

a tear

for you beloved

 

and brings me

nothing but

rebuff

îîî

 

 

 

زاجلةٌ

 

زاجلةٌ

تسرحُ  فيما  بيننا

تحملُ  مني  قبلةً

أو  آهةً

أو  دمعةً

إليكِ  يا  حبيبتي

ومنكِ  تحملُ

الصدودْ

îîî

 

 

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