Friday, 1 August 2014

Mazen Maarouf:Palestinian poet and writer

Mazen Maarouf
Mazen Maarouf is a Palestinian poet and writer. Born in 1978 to a Palestinian 1948 refugee family he lived and studied in Beirut. In 2008 he started working for Annaharnewspaper, as a critic of theatre and literature, along with other newspapers including Assafir (Lebanon), the newspaper Al-Quds-el-Arabi (London) and the magazine Qantara (Paris).
His latest collection of poetry is An Angel Suspended On The Clothesline (Dar Riad-Al-Rayyes, Beirut) published in 2012. His previous books are The Camera Doesn’t Capture Birds (1st edition: Dar Al-Anwar, Beirut 2004, 2nd edition: Dar Al-Jamal, Beirut 2010) and Our Grief Resembling Bread (Dar Al-Farabi, Beirut, 2000). He has performed several poetry readings in Lebanon and at the Voix de la méditerrannée (Lodève/ France, 2010), Poésie Marseille (Marseille/ France, 2010) and  Reel Festivals,(Edinburgh/ Beirut, 2011). A documentary was made about Maarouf on the behalf of Reel Festivals, directed by the filmmaker Roxana Vilk. 
Mazen Maarouf’s poetry has been translated in English, French, German, Spanish, Swedish, Maltese, Icelandic, Chinese, Malay and Urdu. Some of his texts were published in literary magazines in France, Scotland, Iceland, Sweden, China and Malta. Mazen Maarouf lives in Reykjavik.
He took  part in the 2013 Malta Mediterranean Literature Festival.
Some of his poems
Original language: Arabic
Translated into English by Sinan Antoon and Jasim Mohamad
Theme: Impressions from the Mediterranean

A Colored Pin
My face
may resemble Christ
I am not a woodcutter
to make a crucifix
out of my bones
and hang my body on it
like a dirty laboratory coat.
One day
I will empty my mouth
of smiles
and trample on them
just as a child would trample on a terrified breath
inside my lungs,
in narrow corridors
it so happens
that you find a stiff bird
nailed with a colored pin
believing he is perched on a branch
and that soon rain will fall
a hand opens the window
to rescue him
from the long waves of coughing
that haunt me.
My voice
Is plain bread
I dream
of distributing it
among my exhausted enemies..
dangling it
on electricity posts
for the birds..
drying it
as ceilings
that soon collapse
on the heads of their inhabitants.
To feed
the hunger of a dying fish
or inject it
as a shot of adrenaline
into a dog‘s throat
whose soft barking
was run over by a tricycle
when he crossed the road
together with my beloved
believing himself
to be a tame sack of vegetables.
But you are sad
and I have neither an extra sock
to buy a smile for you
Nor a screen of a damaged TV
inside which I could draw you:
A girl
carrying her torn teddy bear
who is crying
for a reason we know not.
And you are sad
and I
am an capsized cicada
because the weather is peaceful
cotton plants are added to the scene
and the girl
on the garden’s lap
two dimples
on the teddy bear’s face
his belly gets filled with cotton
her eyes
with tears
but the cicada suddenly rises
maliciously leaving the scene
in the first scrap cart
because he is tired
of failing to turn
into a button
by looking at the sky
that way.
About Death
When we die
The words we haven‘t said yet
Turn into bubbles
That inflate the body
And smuggle it out of the grave
While the cemetery guard sleeps
The stone slab over our bodies
Collides with us
And refuses to displace.
We ask for help from insects we don‘t care for
A worm here
Another there
Each insect nibbles one
Of those words
Leaving behind
But erasers
Piling up next to one another
Forming a skeleton
That comes back from school
Missing one piece.
My portion of sleep
Is four hours and eleven minutes.
I roll my pierced heart
on the bedcover
It barges into the door
a line of mud behind.
I believe
that a tree
will arrive one night
to stand
beside the line.
A second tree
will follow
A third
A fourth
A ninth. . .etc.
One night
the line will grow bigger
becoming a street
One night
friends will flow
out of my head
While I sleep.
They will come on the street
take a nap
under the trees.
And I
Will wake up one night
afraid of solitude
and follow them.
I throw my heart in the air
Or tails
I try by myself to guess:
My eyelid cannot be the edge of a balcony …
And this sparrow landing on the handle of the door
The handle made of an old rib
Just a confusion
The tale is open on the page of hope
And I am there
Opening my hands widely
Spreading my ten fingers like pins
To fix me down on the page
Whenever my thumb
Gets close to turn it over
I see its shadow
I thought it was an apple
Falling from the sleeve of one of the genies who live above
And it would hit my head and soak the tale with blood.
By Mazen Maarouf, translated from the Arabic by Kareem James Abu-Zeid and Nathalie Handal

There is only one way
to scream:
remembering that you’re…Palestinian.
One way to gaze at your face
in the bus window:
with the passing trees
and the porters who appear
whenever you stop.
One way
to reach the ozone layer:
lightly, like a balloon.
One way to cry:
because you really are a bastard.
One way
to place your hand on your lover’s breasts
and dream:
of distant things
like the Louvre
and a small apartment in a Paris suburb,
and of so much
and so many books.
One way to die:
provoke one of the snipers
in the morning’s early hours.
One way to say whore:
to the whore in your bed.
One way to smoke hash:
in an elevator, alone,
at eleven at night.
One way to write a poem:
miserably, in the bathroom.
One way to scream:
in the sewer,
where your face appears
for a second
in the shit-filled waters
to remind you
of how you’re nothing,
absolutely nothing,
but a Palestinian.