Poetry and I by Mbarka Mint al-Barra’ (tr. Joel Mitchell & PTC participants)

a nutshell: with just eighteen lines, Mauritanian poet/teacher al-Barra’ shares the beauty and power of poetry to her on a personal level

a line: “Trouble leeches ink from the quill”

an image: among her vivid impressions of poetry here al-Barra’ writes that its colours form the spectrum from grape to dawn – that is, from violet to red

a thought: I accessed this poem via Poetry Translation Centre (PTC) and really appreciate how they shed light on the translation process, e.g. in Joel Mitchell’s bridge translation the line quoted above was “Feather and ink drained concern” and it evolved into its final form through the the workshop

a fact: born in 1957 in al-Madhardhara, Mauritania (‘the country of the million poets’), al-Barra’ belongs to the third generation of modern poets – her poems address social issues and borrow images from religious texts, ancient Arab history & classical Arabic texts; as PTC writes, symbolism of religious stories is effective in a country deeply rooted in Arab-Islamic traditions

want to read Poetry and I? visit here

here you can also read another poem by al-Barra’, Message from a Martyr – written in response to the occupation of Palestine