Translated by Mbarek Sryfi
Alone by the Nile
ISBN: 978-1-956921-18-2 (pbk.)
(October, 2023) (Pre-order pricing through September 30.)
The first book-length selection in English of the distinguished Egyptian poet’s work. Though widely published in English-language periodicals, with various works translated in several languages, and having received the UNESCO prize as well as the Cavafy award, Al-Shahawy remains under-represented in the U.S. His work, which draws upon Muslim mysticism along with even older traditions of love poetry to produce what has been called a ‘mystical eroticism, has set him at odds with conservative Egyptian authorities, from whom he faced years of suppression, but his popularity among readers in the region has and does still remain strong.
Three Cs spring to mind when reading this marvellous volume. Cavafy—for delicacy and dailyness. Celan—for the constant presence of death and dread. And Cohen (Leonard!) for clarity and concision. It’s an unusual and winning combination. Both the world and the word appear all through this wonderfully translated collection with rare and moving clarity and compassion.
Tim Atkins, author of Petrarch Collected Atkins
Ahmad al-Shahawy’s Alone by the Nile, fortuitously translated to English by Mbarek Sryfi’s expert hand, stands out by its intimate and elegant beauty. In its beautifully crafted verses, the reader will be elated by the voice of a poet who, in his path, has found its virtue and, with it, illuminates his poems. Ahmad’s poetry embraces the millenary tradition of Arabic literature and the sensitive, humble, and honest poetic voice of a human being who has suffered and lived, finding in his spirit the chant that spreads the seed of love— and offers to us, fortunate readers, its joyful fruit.
Juan Armando Rojas, author of Sanctuaries Desert Sea
Ahmad Al Shahawy is a poet in the league of Cavafy, Adonis, and Ungaretti. His traveling poetic voice is deep and philosophical; his images are personal and authentic; his references are autobiographical and universal. Al Shahawy is a poet of our times whose voice reaches beyond time and space in a dialogue that reminds us of Francisco De Quevedo’s sonnet “From the Tower.” Alone by the Nile constitutes a comprehensive cartography of conceptual imagery crafted with masterful precision. A transversal reading of this book would reveal Al Shahawy’s ribosomal connections with Orientalism and transatlantic aesthetics, philosophy, art, and the social construction of knowledge.
Carlos Aguasaco, author of Cardinal in My Window with a Mask on its Beak