Spring and Fall 2007
MOHAMMAD ABDERRAZZAQ is the author of several encyclopedia articles on various topics, including "Sunnis" and "Khawarij-Ibadiyah" (in Encyclopedia of the Modern World, Oxford University Press, forthcoming); and "Native Americans," "Dar al-Islam," "Ansarullah Community," "Elderly," and "Muslim Peace Fellowship" (in Encyclopedia of Islam in America, Greenwood Press, forthcoming). His research interests include early and medieval Islamic history, jurisprudence of minorities in Islam, and Islamic ethics and spirituality. He is currently a PhD candidate in Islamic Studies at Boston University.
ABU ISHAQ ISMA'IL IBN AL-QASIM (748-825), nicknamed Abu'l-'Atahiya ("father of craziness"), was a prominent poet of the Abbasid era. He was born to a lowly Kufan family and sold earthenware jars for a living. Possessing a natural gift for poetry, he devoted himself to the art until he became renowned for it. His work includes early wine songs and love odes (most prominently featuring 'Atba, a slave-girl of the Caliph al-Saffah's daughter) as well as panegyrics. (1) He later devoted himself to ascetic poetry (zuhdiyyat), in which he warned against worldliness and spoke of death, resurrection, heaven, and hell. Although he remains famous for his prolific output in this genre, it led him to be accused of heresy during his lifetime, perhaps as a result of his lack of theological training or perhaps because of political intrigues. As a result of his penchant for experimentation, Abu'l-'Atahiya sometimes departed from the fixed set of meters ('arud) of classical Arabic poetry.
KADHIM AL-ALI is a lecturer in the Department of Translation at the University of Basra in Iraq.
'ALI JA'FAR AL-'ALLAQ is a modern Arabic poet and Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at United Arab Emirates University, al-'Ain. He studied Arabic language and literature in his native Iraq and earned a doctorate in Modern Literature and Criticism from the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom. He has taught at Baghdad University and San'a University (Yemen). He has also served as chief editor of two Iraqi magazines, al-Aqlam (Pens) and Al-Thaqafa al-Ajnabiyya (Foreign Culture). He is a prolific poet and experienced critic who has authored six anthologies and edited five books of critical studies and has participated in numerous cultural and poetry festivals throughout the Arab world. (2) The Iraqi cultural magazine Al-Adib featured his work and discussed his influence in a special issue in 2005. The poem "al-Nahr" (The River) appears in his anthology Mamalik Da'i'ah (Lost Kingdoms). (3)
KADHIM AL-HIJAJ was born in Basra in 1942 and received his BA from the College of Islamic Law at the University of Baghdad in 1967. Since then, he has published four collections of poetry (Finally Talked Shahrayar in 1973, Basri Melodies in 1987, Youth's Gazelle in 1999, Unlike Things in 2005). In 2002, he also published a monograph entitled Women and Sex in Myths and Religions. He frequently recites poetry at Arab and international festivals and currently publishes the widely read and popular column "Spices" in the weekly newspaper of Basra, Al-Akhbar.
KHALED AL-MASRI holds a BA and an MA in Arabic Literature from Yarmouk University in Jordan. A PhD candidate in Arabic Literature at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, he is working on a dissertation entitled "Representations of Violence, Gender, and Sexuality in Contemporary Arabic Fiction." He is currently Preceptor of Arabic at Harvard University and has been Director 'in residence' of the University of Virginia/Yarmouk University Summer Arabic Program for the past seven years. Previous publications include Gha'ib Tu'mah Faraman: Societal Development and Textual Change (Damascus: Al-Mada, 1997).
ABDEL RAHMAN MAJEED AL-RUBEI'E was born in Nasiriyah in southern Iraq. Fiction writer, poet, columnis,t and editor, he has published more than a dozen collections of short stories, six novels, six volumes of poetry, and books of literary criticism. His novel Al-Washm (The Tattoo) has been reprinted six times in Morocco but was never published in Saddam's Iraq.
ADIL AL-THAMIRY is a lecturer in the Department of Translation at the University of Basra in Iraq.
ZEINAB ASSAF was born in Baalbek, in the Lebanese Bekaa Valley, in 1981. Her first collection of poetry, Salaat al-Gha'ib (Funeral Prayer in Absentia), was published in 2005. She currently works as a journalist for the daily newspaper An-Nahar and is editor-in-chief of the literary magazine Naqd (Critic)—a journal that focuses on contemporary Arabic poetry.
LARBI BATMA (1948-98) is best known for founding the influential Moroccan musical group Nass El Ghiwane. A well-rounded artist, he was also an actor, a playwright, and a poet. Upon being diagnosed with lung cancer, he decided to write his autobiography. Throughout his life, he avidly researched Moroccan folklore and brought considerable amounts of obscure poetry and music to mainstream awareness.
ZIAD BENTAHAR holds a BA from Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco and an MA from Pennsylvania State University, where he is currently a doctoral candidate in Comparative Literature. His primary focus is African Literature, with a particular interest in the Maghreb and connections between North and sub-Saharan Africa.
MARK BERG holds a BA in Russian Language and Literature from George Washington University. He also studied Italian at George Washington University and Spanish at Harvard University. He is currently an independent writer and works at Harvard Law School Library.
ALEXANDRA CUFFEL received her PhD in medieval history from New York University in 2002. She is an assistant professor of pre-modern world history at Macalester College. Her research focuses on Jewish, Christian, and Muslim relations in the Middle Ages. She is the author of Gendering Disgust in Medieval Religious Polemic (University of Notre Dame Press, 2007) and co-editor of Religion, Gender, and Culture in the pre-modern world (Palgrave 2007).
JAMES DENBOER lives in Sacramento, California. His writing has won grants and awards from the International Poetry Forum, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Council on the Arts, the Carnegie Fund for Authors, the Authors League, PEN/New York, and other institutions. His Selected Poems will appear in the fall of 2007.
DJURA was born in the Kabyle region of northern Algeria and moved to France at the age of five. She began her career as a filmmaker in 1974. She soon went on to found an all-female musical group, Djurdjura, whose original songs were inspired by the folkloric oral tradition of the Berber people. After the success of her first book Le Voile du silence (1990), Djura wrote her autobiographical La Saison des narcisses (Michel Lafon 1993). Engaging and compelling, the narratives that constitute this autobiography provide an inside look into the lives of North African Muslim women. Through her writing and the songs she continues to perform today, Djura transmits an important message to her female compatriots, emphasizing that the members of her group sing out loud what their mothers hummed quietly to themselves.
HOSSAM FAHR is a contemporary Egyptian writer. He writes in an interesting mixture of modern standard Arabic and Egyptian dialect. He has published three collections of short stories, Al Bussat layssa Ahmadian (Things Are Not Fine, 1986), Ummul Sho'our (The Willow Tree, 1994), Wouguh New York (New York Faces, 2004), and a novella Ya Aziz Einy (Apple of My Eye, 2006). The two stories translated in this volume come from New York Faces, a collection written in New York after the events of 9/11 and made up of seventeen distinct, but interconnected stories; an Egyptian critic has described it as a novel in the guise of a collection of short stories. Despite having lived in New York since 1982, Fahr's writing remains almost exclusively in Arabic.
YVONNE FRECCERO is the author of numerous translations, including Deceit, Desire, and the Novel (1965), The Smile of the Gods (1968), The Beginnings of Modern Colonization (1969), The Scapegoat (1986), JOB the Victim of His People (1987), and The Wind in My Hair (2007).
PATRICIA FREDERICK holds a BA in French from Tufts University and a PhD from Rice University. An Associate Professor of French at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, she has been teaching advanced courses in French language and Francophone culture, literature, and film for more than twenty years. Her publications include critical studies of works by such contemporary authors as Marguerite Yourcenar and Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio as well as Franco-African and Caribbean fiction by Djura, Maryse Conde, Bernard Dadie, and Kateb Yacine. Her scholarly interests also include translation, medieval folklore, and issues in contemporary culture and identity.
LOUBNA HANDOU immigrated to Italy from Morocco with her family when she was five. She is currently studying political science at the University of Bologna.
AMANI HASSAN teaches Arabic in the Department of Middle East and Islamic Studies at New York University. She has worked as an Arabic copywriter and a news correspondent and is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at New York University.
MOHAMED ELSAWI HASSAN is currently a visiting scholar in the Linguistics Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has worked as a Lecturer of Arabic at Smith College. He also teaches in the Department of English Language and Literature at Mansoura University in Egypt. His principal areas of interest and research are translation, teaching Arabic and English as foreign languages, course design and materials development, applied linguistics, especially functional linguistics and the critical discourse analysis of ideology.
RIMA HASSOUNEH is Palestinian and was born in Kuwait in 1968. She holds MAs in English and modern Arabic literature. She is an editor, literary translator, and teacher. Her translation of Ala Hlehel's short story "The Bearded Man" appeared in the January 2007 issue of World Literature Today; her translations have also been published in Qissat: Short Stories by Palestinian Women (2006). Her translation of the novel Masaas by Adania Shibli (Metathesis, unpublished) was well received by the 2004 University of Arkansas Arabic Translation Award Committee. She currently lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
ALA HLEHEL was born in Jesh, Galilee, in 1974. He has a diploma in scriptwriting from the Tel Aviv School of Screenwriting and a degree in Communications and Fine Art from Haifa University. He has worked as an editor in radio and print journalism. While working as a radio presenter in Haifa, Hlehel served as editor-in-chief of the newspaper Al-Madina, also based in Haifa. He has written numerous short stories, plays for theater, and scripts for film and television. In 2003, he took part in the annual international playwrights' residency at the Royal Court Theater in London. He has received several awards for his work, among them first prize in the 2000 A. M. Qattan Foundation Literary Competition for his first novel, Al-Sirk (The Circus), and the "Young Writer" Award in the same competition in 2003 for his collection of short stories, Stories in Time of Need. He currently lives in Acre.
IBN ZAYDUN AL-MAJZUMI (b.384 AH/1003 AD-d.463 AH/1070 AD) is one of the most famous Arab poets of medieval Andalusia. In his youth, Ibn Zaydun was active in politics and as a court poet. Although he wrote a broad range of poetry, he is best known for the poetry he addressed to his lover, princess Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi, an accomplished poet in her own right. In consequence of a dispute with Wallada and court rivalry and intrigue, Ibn Zaydun was imprisoned and exiled. He wrote his greatest poetry in exile, lamenting his separation from Wallada and from his native-and equally beloved-Cordoba. In the poem "Luscious Cordoba," he speaks to the city as if he were addressing a woman, giving the impression that Cordoba and Wallada are one. Ibn Zaydun's poetry is widely read and recited throughout the Arabic-speaking world to this day.
TOSHIYA KAMEI has translated Spanish and Latin American literature, including The Curse of Eve and Other Stories by Mexican writer Liliana Blum (Host Publications, forthcoming). Kamei's translations have recently appeared in The Modern Review, Illuminations, and Parthenon West Review.
SUHEIL LAHER is a doctoral candidate in the department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. He holds a BS in engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MS from Marshall University, and an MA in Islamic Studies from Boston University, where he has also worked as a lecturer of Modern Standard Arabic. Since 1998, he has served as Muslim Chaplain at MIT.
CARLY MABERRY, editorial and production assistant and web mistress for Metamorphoses, is a senior English major at Smith College. After working as a STRIDE intern at the Poetry Center at Smith College, she spent a year as a student in Cork, Ireland. She has studied French, German, and Irish. Her senior project focuses on Sylvia Plath and the issue of identity.
WAFA MALIH was born in Bouzkarn, Morocco on July 21, 1975. In 2004, she published a collection of short stories, I'tirafaat Rajul Waqih (Confessions of an Impudent Man), followed by her first novel, 'Indama Yabki al-Rijal (When Men Cry), in 2007. Her book reviews have appeared in Moroccan newspapers and journals. She currently lives in the capital, Rabat, where she works as a journalist.
ABDULZAHRA MUHAMAD was born in Najaf, Iraq in 1961. He graduated from Al-Mustansiriya University in Baghdad in 1984. In 1993 he obtained a Higher Diploma in Translation from the same University and in 2004 won a Fulbright scholarship to pursue non-degree graduate studies in the field of translation at the University of Massachussetts Amherst. He has taught translation and other classes in the Department of English at Kufa University in Najaf, Iraq since 1994.
SAYYIDA NAFISA BINT AL-HASAN 144/5-208 AH (762-824 CE) was the great-granddaughter of al-Hasan, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson. She, along with a number of other descendants of the Prophet, became important to Egyptian Sufis and other pious Muslims wishing to visit the graves of the holy dead, both because her tomb is in Cairo, and because, according to legend, she separated from her husband (who moved back to Arabia) in order to assist and bless the inhabitants of Egypt. Shi'i Muslims also considered her holy because of her lineage. Some scholars have cast doubt on the authenticity of her tomb and the legends linking her to Egypt, since the earliest reference to her living there come from a Shi'ite source dated 150 years after her death. Authentic or not, tales of her life and miracles were regularly recorded in tabaqat literature (collections of biographies of individuals, often "holy," connected to a specific religious movements or schools within Islam), chronicles, and Arabic epic literature even into the modern era.
LYDIA MIRANDA ORAM holds a BA in Spanish language and literature from Smith College, an MA in Italian from Columbia University and an MPhil in Comparative Literature from New York University, where she is a doctoral student in Comparative Literature and Film Studies, with a dissertation on the representation of the Mafia in Italian and American film. In addition to critical articles on Italian literature, she has published translations from Spanish and Italian.
MERIEM PAGES is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and Stanford University, where she obtained an MA in History. She received an MA and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, with a dissertation focusing on the image of the Assassins in medieval Europe. She is Assistant Professor of medieval English literature at Keene State College.
THALIA PANDIRI, editor-in-chief of Metamorphoses since 1999, is Professor of Classics and Comparative Literature at Smith College. She has published translations from medieval Latin, Greek, Italian, and French, and is particularly interested in Italian neodialect poetry and in Greek-based dialects of southern Italy. She is currently working on survivor narratives from the Asia Minor Catastrophe of 1922 and orally transmitted folk tales from nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Asia Minor.
QADI 'IYAD, was born in 476 AH/1083 CE in Sabta (Ceuta), Andalusia. He was a qadi or judge and faqih (jurist) of the Maliki school of jurisprudence, serving in both Morocco and Spain. He authored several works on various Islamic topics, but he is best known for his Kitab al-Shifa' bi-ta'rif huquq al-Mustafa, a devotional biography that is arguably the most popular work on the Prophet Muhammad in the Islamic tradition. Qadi 'Iyad was also an accomplished poet. His biographers describe him as a prolific writer of poetry, although little of his work has been transmitted. What is extant was collected and preserved by his family members and close associates. 'Iyad's poetry reflects his personal religious experiences, and, as such, much of it is written in the first person. What is most revealing about 'Iyad's poetry is his piety, which he manifests through intense and descriptive supplications, calling on God in dire need. The poems included in this volume constitute the first attempt to translate the poetical works of this great eleventh-century Muslim figure into English.
TAREK SHAMMA, a Syrian scholar and translator, is Assistant Professor of Translation at United Arab Emirates University.
NADINE SHAMS's few published short stories have earned her a place in what some critics have called the "1990s generation" of Egyptian writers. Her stories reflect some of the major concerns of these young writers: disillusionment with "grand causes," a turn to the personal and the subjective, technical experimentation, a preoccupation with the fragmented and ambivalent nature of experience and self, and the willingness to challenge social and sexual taboos. In recent years, she has focused her creative energy on screenwriting.
MAHMUD SOBH was born in Safad, Palestine. In 1948, he was expelled from his homeland in the Nakba. Having read Ibn Zaydun's poetry as a child, he found that he shared the famous Cordoban poet's feelings of exile. Sobh went on to write his doctoral dissertation for the University of Madrid on Andalusian love poetry, focusing particularly on Ibn Zaydun and Wallada. In addition to translating and writing about classical Arabic poetry, he writes poetry in Arabic and Spanish. In 1985 he published an edition with translation into Spanish of Ibn Zaydun's poetry (Madrid: Instituto hispano-Ãrabe de cultura, 1985). He won the Premio Ãlamo de Poesia in 1975 and the Premio Vicente Aleixandre in 1978.
ROBERT G. SULLIVAN is Associate Professor of German and Scandinavian Studies and Adjunct Professor of Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His teaching and scholarly interests include medieval spirituality, the Crusades, and the representation of the Muslim world in Europe during the Middle Ages and today. He holds degrees from McGill University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
FATIMA TABAAMRANT is a highly successful traditional Moroccan singer. She sings and performs in her native Berber tongue.
MORGAN WOOLSEY, editorial and production assistant for Metamorphoses, is a senior at Smith College and a free-lance recording technician. Her senior honors thesis, "Sound and Gender in the Horror Film", combines her studies as a major in the Study of Women and Gender and a music minor.
TASSADIT YACINE is a renowned expert on Berber culture and society, focusing particularly on the Berber communities of Algeria and Morocco, and has been the Director of the review Awal since 1985. Her major publications include Poesie berbere et identite (1987), L'izli ou l'amour chante en kabyle (1988), Les voleurs de feu. Elements d'une anthropologie sociale et culturelle de l'Algerie (1993), Piege ou le combat d'une femme algerienne (1995), and Chacal ou la ruse des domines (2001).
HUDA YEHIA comes from Baghdad, Iraq. She defended her Master's thesis in Translation Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in July 2007.
SOUHAD ZENDAH is an Arabic Instructor at Middlebury College's Summer Language Institute and a Teaching Assistant at Tufts University. She is a recent graduate (cum laude) of the University of Tulsa, where she was a "Senior of the Year" finalist, and she has received several awards for her thesis project, a documentary entitled "Growing Up: American Muslim Children After 9/11." Souhad has also studied journalism at Birzeit University in the Palestinian West Bank and has worked as a news editor for Reuters in Amman, Jordan.
1 Abu'l-'Abbas (749-754 CE), nicknamed al-Saffah (the Slaughterer), was the first caliph of the 'Abbasid dynasty, and his reign was characterized by the brutal suppression of his opponents.
2 According to the Arabic literature website
(http://www.jehat.com/Jehaat/en/RecentTitlesonArabicLiterature/Mahmoud-El-Wardani.htm): "Ali Jaafar Al-Allaq belongs to the second generation of the pioneers of modern Arab poetry, his work arriving in the wake of that of Nazik Al-Mala'ika, Abdel-Wahab Al-Bayati and Badr Shaker Al-Sayyab. His poetry bears witness to the transformation of a collective, nationally oriented voice to one expressing individual existence and personal concerns. This particular collection is a benchmark in the history of modern Iraqi poetry, including poems written in the tradition of Al-Allaq's direct predecessors, as well as more experimental, individualist poems and poems that combine features from both schools."
3 'Ali Ja'far Al-'Allaq, Mamalik Da'i'ah, 2nd ed. (Beirut: al-Mu'assasah al-'Arabiyyah lil-Dirasat was al-Nashr, 2004).