A Friend’s Kitchen
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Join one of Sudan’s most important contemporary voices, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, to celebrate the publication of his latest book, A Friend’s Kitchen (Poetry Translation Centre, 2023). with dual language readings in Arabic and English, discussions about the book, poetry, films and Sudanese culture.
Al-Raddi will be joined by poets Bryar Bajalan and Shook, who will speak about the experience of translating his work alongside the readings. Special guests will include the afterword contributor to A Friend’s Kitchen, Stephen Watts, one of the most influential and respected poets who has championed translation in the UK for the last forty years.
A Friend’s Kitchen, emerges in the aftermath of Al-Raddi’s arrival to London in 2012, after a forced exile from Sudan, when he was separated from his wife and children for nearly five years. During late, uncertain nights awake in a strange city, he would write brief, mystical, often stream-of-consciousness texts to post on Facebook, his primary means of communication with loved ones in Khartoum. The midnight musings soon developed into poems.
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi was born in 1969 and grew up in Omdurman, Khartoum where he lived until forced into exile in 2012. Al-Raddi is the author of four volumes of poetry in Arabic starting with Songs of Solitude in 1996. He was a poet in residence at London’s Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology in 2012; his 2015 collection He Tells Tales of Meroe emerged from his time there, and went on to be shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award. A Monkey at the Window was published in 2016 by the Poetry Translation Centre and Bloodaxe Books. He has a growing reputation as a poet of international significance and his poems have been published in the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and Poetry Review.
Bryar Bajalan is a writer, translator, and filmmaker currently pursuing a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of Exeter, where he researches depictions of eroticism in the poetry of Mosul. His work has appeared in Ambit, Hyperallergic, Modern Poetry in Translation, Spoon River Poetry Review, and World Literature Today, and on the Poetry Foundation website. His present projects include the translation of poets displaced from Shingal during the Islamic State’s genocide of the Êzîdî people, and the collection of oral histories in Mosul. He has presented his work at the Shubbak Festival in London, the Exeter Respect Festival, and Translating Poetries: A Symposium for Translation Practitioners at SOAS, as well as in The Rest of Us magazine. His short documentary about early twentieth-century Baghdadi poet al-Zahawi won an award for outstanding achievement at the Tagore International Film Festival. He recently completed a short film based on Sudanese poet al-Saddiq al-Raddi’s poem ‘The Book of Sorrows’. In his free time, Bryar enjoys experimenting with artisan cooking, dancing, and listening to soulful music from around the world.
Shook is a poet, translator, and editor whose work has spanned a wide range of languages and places. Winner of the 2021 Words Without Borders-Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest for their work with poet Conceição Lima of São Tomé and Príncipe, their most recent translations include the Mexican experimentalist Mario Bellatin’s Beauty Salon and Kurdish iconoclast Farhad Pirbal’s Refugee Number 33,333, co-translated with Pshtiwan Kamal Babakir. Shook’s own poetry has been translated into more than a dozen languages, including Isthmus Zapotec, Kurdish, and Uyghur.
This event is hosted as part of our bookshop programme, and co-presented with the Poetry Translation Centre.