by Abdulkareem Kasid
Well-known in the Arab world as a poet, essayist and translator, Abdulkareem Kasid, born in Basra in 1946, escaped from Iraq in 1978 and went to live in Aden. He lived and worked in Damascus for ten years before settling in London with his wife and two children. In recent years he has returned to Iraq from time to time as well as travelling widely in North Africa and the Middle East. His translations from French into Arabic include poetry by Rimbaud, Jacques Prévert’s Paroles, and Anabase by Saint-John Perse. In 2006 he worked on A Soldier’s Tale, Stravinsky’s opera transposed to an Iraqi setting and performed at the Old Vic Theatre in 2006. Translations of his work have appeared in a variety of print and online journals in the UK.
A resolute secularist, his work has been described as beings characterised by ‘a blend of modernism, Sufism and references to Islamic and Arab history.’ The work collected in Sarabad, the first extensive collection of his poetry published in English, offers a powerful, moving and sometimes sardonic commentary on Iraq’s recent history and the experience of exile.
The initial translations of the poems in this collection were made by the poet jointly with his daughter Sara. Those versions have been worked on in close conjunction with the poet John Welch. Born in 1942 John Welch has published several collections with Shearsman, and has previously worked in a similar way with the Punjabi poet Amarjit Chandan on translations of his work.