four poems from Iraq in Colony!sjfowler/c1p49 the wonderful Irish journal Colony has published my four translations from the Iraqi poets I worked with for the Reel Iraq project a few months ago. A huge honour to have had the time with them. 

"A product of the remarkable Reel Iraq project in April 2014, where four British and four Iraqi poets spent a week together in the Safeen mountains of Kurdistan, I had the pleasure to spend time meeting and transliterating the work of Ahmad Abdel Hussein, Miriam Al Attar, Ali Wajeh and Zhawen Shally. These works appear without their Arabic originals to emphasise that in the process of their being reconstructed into English, I have transliterated, rather than translated the original poems, and while I was as loyal as I found myself able to be (feeling deeply responsible to the poets, if not the poems, I have actually been very careful to maintain the original texts, by my own mangling standards), they now exist somewhere between myself and the original authors, in a no man’s land of sorts, possessed by neither, and better for that. They are four complete failures. – SJ Fowler

in the name of god (lower case)
transliterated from the Arabic of Ahmed Abdel Hussein

you are the well of thirst
you are the black prize in the mouth of the wolf

leave off your endless light of miracles
which lights up the name of Iraq
raise up your blindfold
which has been gently knotted upon the eyes of Baghdad
gather the decorations of war from the thresholds of home
turn the guns of battle
to brooms, so that they might not kill
snuff out that light which propagates the darkness of the mothernight
and don’t leave my lover to course in dread
from her home to the halls, and from the halls to her home
but print on her heart instead, the furthest stars
until she knows while she’s tightening her hijab
that you are the rictus grin that proceeds death