2021: Event 18

(18) Let Me Tell You What I Saw:
Adnan Al-Sayegh and
Jenny Lewis

Sunday 18th April | 11.00-11:45am | Free

Adnan Al-Sayegh and Jenny Lewis read from their ground-breaking dual-language Arabic/English version of part of Al-Sayegh’s astonishing anti-war epic poem Uruk’s Anthem which gives voice to the profound despair of the Iraqi experience of recent wars. This superb translation brings the eloquent original Arabic epic to a new readership.  

“To see such a significant selection from this major work of world literature in this thrilling translation gives me great pleasure. This fine poet of terror and tenderness has found the translators he deserves.” – Leona Medlin, Mulfran Press, Cardiff

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The Festival is organising the bookselling in partnership with bookshop.org. There’s an expanded range of Festival titles for each event available from our bookshop.org affiliate shop. Take a look at them here. If you buy from our shop, you are supporting the Festival, the writers, the publishers, and, thanks to the way bookshop.org operates, independent booksellers generally.

Adnan Al-Sayegh 

Adnan Al-Sayegh, born in Al-Kufa in 1955, is one of the most original voices from the generation of Iraqi poets known as the Eighties Movement. His poetry carries an intense passion for freedom, love and beauty. Adnan uses his words as a weapon to denounce the devastation of war and the horrors of dictatorship. He left his homeland in 1993, lived in Amman and Beirut then took refuge in Sweden in 1996. Since 2004 he has been living in exile in London. His work has been described as politically charged, hard-hitting, thought-provoking, passionate, outspoken and incredibly moving, all of which qualities can be found in his magnum opus, the 550-page epic poem, Uruk’s Anthem. Adnan is a member of the Iraqi and  Arab Writers Unions, the Iraqi and Arab Journalists Unions, the International Journalist Organization, the Swedish Writers Union, the Swedish Pen Club, and English PEN and Exiled Writers Ink. He has received several international awards; among them, the Hellman-Hammet International Poetry Award (New York 1996), the Rotterdam International Poetry Award (1997) and the Swedish Writers Association Award (2005), and has  been invited to read  his poems in many festivals across the world. He has published eleven books of poetry in Arabic and had thirteen books of his work published in translation. As well as English, his work has been translated into French, Italian, Swedish, Spanish, Norwegian, Romanian, German, Danish, Persian, Chinese and Kurdish. Image: Sufyan Al-Khazraji 

Adnan Al-SayeghLet Me Tell You What I Saw
ISBN: 9781781726020

Jenny Lewis 

Jenny Lewis is a poet, playwright, translator and songwriter who teaches poetry at Oxford University. Her father was born in Blaenclyddach and she comes from a long line of Welsh miners who worked at Trehafod colliery in the Rhondda. She has published four full collections of poetry and two chapbooks in English and Arabic with Adnan Al-Sayegh (Mulfran Press, 2013/14) as part of the award-winning, Arts Council-funded ‘Writing Mesopotamia’ project which aims to build bridges and foster friendships between English and Arabic-speaking communities.  Her re-imagining of the Gilgamesh epic, Gilgamesh Retold, published by Carcanet in October 2018, was a New Statesman Book of the Year, a Carcanet Book of the Year and a London Review of Books Book of the Week on publication. She is currently completing a PhD on Gilgamesh at Goldsmiths, London University.  

Jenny Lewis – Gilgamesh Retold
ISBN: 9781784106140

Jenny Lewis – Taking Mesopotamia
ISBN: 9781906188115