Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Interview with Fady Joudah

The Writer's Center and Split This Rock Present: Thursday Night Live

In connection with Thursday's Poetry Discussion of The Earth In the Attic, I interviewed Fady Joudah about his work. The following is an excerpt from the Writer's Center interview. The full interview can be found here.

KH: Your work as a doctor shows up in the content of your work. Other than providing material, how do medicine, or science in general, and poetry intersect for you? What comes of those intersections?

FJ: The language of medicine, with its Greek and Latin obsessions, is fascinating. It was also quite metaphorical in its nascent days, in the 18th century for example; even if it likes to denounce that flowery lexicon and pretend a kind of certain specificity, it was originally bound to metaphor and translation in order to achieve a sense or illusion of inevitability, of objectivity, of truth. In that manner it resembles many aspects of poetry. Of course medicine is far more utilitarian than poetry is. Still medicine is a window into the dialogue between power and knowledge, and the politics of knowledge, from which poetry is not exempt. I think Foucault’s The Birth of the Clinic or Sontag’s Illness as Metaphor are each a case-in-point.

Fady Joudah's The Earth in the Attic won the Yale Series for Younger Poets in 2007. Contest judge Louise Glück describes the poet in her foreword as, “that strange animal, the lyric poet in whom circumstance and profession ... have compelled obsession with large social contexts and grave national dilemmas.” He is the winner of the 2008 Saif Ghobash – Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation for his translation of poetry by Mahmoud Darwish collected in The Butterfly’s Burden, published in a bilingual edition by Bloodaxe Books in the UK and by Copper Canyon Press in the US. The US edition was short-listed for PEN America’s poetry in translation award in 2009. His most recent translation is of If I Were Another: Poems by Mahmoud Darwish, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009). He was a field member of Doctors Without Borders in 2002 and 2005.

Katherine Howell is a poet, the Communication and Development Assistant for Split This Rock, and a Lecturer in Writing at the George Washington University. She lives, writes, and teaches in Washington, D.C. You can read her reviews of Split This Rock featured poets here.

Yvette Neisser Moreno will lead the discussion on Thursday, November 19. She is a poet and translator whose work has appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The International Poetry Review, The Potomac Review, Tar River Poetry, and Virginia Quarterly Review. Her translation (from Spanish) of Argentinian poet Luis Alberto Ambroggio's Difficult Beauty: Selected Poems was published by Cross-Cultural Communications earlier this year. In addition to working as a professional writer/editor, Moreno teaches poetry and translation at The Writer’s Center and has taught poetry in public schools in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.

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