Reading to Feature Famed Palestinian Poets

Palestinian poets Ghassan Zaqtan and Fady Joudah

Palestinian poets Ghassan Zaqtan and Fady Joudah

Critically acclaimed Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan and translator Fady Joudah will read selections and discuss their latest book, “Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me: And Other Poems,” Wednesday, Oct. 24, at 4 p.m. in Winter Hall’s Darling Foundation Lecture Hall (Room 210) at Westmont. The event, sponsored by the Poetry Foundation, Westmont Office of the Provost, Westmont’s English and history departments and UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Middle East Studies, is free and open to the public.

Zaqtan, a leading poet of the Arab world, and Joudah, an award-winning poet and translator, have embarked on a month-long tour together, visiting 15 venues in the U.S., including Yale, New York, Columbia, Harvard and Boston Universities.

Zaqtan, the author of 10 collections of poetry, was born in Beit Jala, near Bethlehem, and has lived in Jordan, Beirut, Damascus and Tunis. He returned to Palestine in 1994 and now lives in Ramallah. He is also a novelist, editor and filmmaker.

Joudah, a practicing physician of internal medicine, has translated two poetry collections by celebrated Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, “If I Were Another” and “The Butterfly’s Burden.” Joudah’s own book, “The Earth in the Attic,” won the Yale Series of Younger Poets prize in 2008, the first for an Arab-American. He lives in Houston.

“Like a Straw Bird,” published by Yale University Press, is a volume in the Margellos World Republic of Letters series, dedicated to making literary works from around the globe available in English through translation.

“Zaqtan’s poems are uncompromising in their direct engagement with daily life, detailing the way in which the quotidian is, after all, the grand narrative of history,” says Cole Swensen of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.