The work of a translator is exceptionally difficult. The translator has to convey the message of words written by another person without actually knowing that person, but they also need to make sure they flow correctly in the target language, so much so that the reader should never be able to tell that the text is not in the original language. Poetry is generally full of metaphors, meter, rhythm, and anecdotes that make translation all the more difficult. Adil Babikir has done an amazing job in the translation of these poems into English from Arabic, a task I can only imagine was intense and most probably agonizingly difficult at times!
Modern Sudanese Poetry is an anthology of Sudanese poems both curated and translated by Adil Babikir. The collection also contains a detailed preface about the anthology and the poets, why each one was chosen, and the reason why certain areas may be lacking (southern Sudanese poetry/spoken word for example, or poems that the editor was unable to secure publishing rights to). The collection spans 6 decades of Sudanese poetry (from the 1960’s until today), and includes both male and female poets (although I would like to have seen more women featured from the earlier period). I had personally not heard of any of these poets before and am grateful to Adil Babikir for the work they have done to bring us these wonderful works of art into the English language.
I read this collection slowly, savoring each poem, giving each poet time to linger in my head. There are many cultural references in the poems, a love for a homeland torn by war, but also hope, resistance and love. There is also so much beauty within this collection, poems that sing to you, twirl you around, and break your heart in two. I would love to read more content by each and every poet featured!
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy of this collection. I encourage all poetry lovers to grab a copy and delve into the world of Sudanese poetry, you will not be disappointed.