Smith College Admission Academics Student Life About Smith news Offices
News Release

April 7, 2005

Iraqi Poetry and Music at Smith

Editor's note: For a high-res digital image of Sinan Antoon or of the music ensemble Layaali, e-mail Marti Hobbes.

NORTHAMPTON, Mass.—Smith College will present an evening of Iraqi poetry and music at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 26, in Weinstein Auditorium, Wright Hall. “A Celebration of Saadi Youssef and Iraqi Poetry” will feature the Iraqi poet Sinan Antoon, reading his own and Youssef’s work, as well as a concert of traditional Arabic music.

This event, which is free, open to the public and wheelchair accessible, is supported by Smith alumna Peggy Block Danziger and her husband, Richard Danziger.

One of the leading contemporary poets of the Arab world, Youssef writes of cultural dislocation and self-imposed exile, individual memory and collective history. The poet Marilyn Hacker writes, “Saadi Youssef was born in Iraq, but he has become—through the vicissitudes of history and the cosmopolitan appetites of his mind—a poet, not only of the Arab world, but of the human universe.” The author of more than 30 collections of poetry and seven books of prose, Youssef has also worked as a journalist, activist, publisher and translator, bringing to the Arabic language works by such writers as Walt Whitman, Federico García Lorca and George Orwell. Youssef left Iraq in 1979 and, after many detours, has recently settled in London. He was originally scheduled to read at Smith, but was unable to obtain a visa to travel to the United States.

The younger Iraqi writer Sinan Antoon, who has been inspired and influenced by the work of Saadi Youssef, will read both his and Youssef’s work in Arabic and English. Antoon studied English literature at Baghdad University before coming to the United States after the 1991 Gulf War. He did his graduate studies at Georgetown and Harvard, where he is a doctoral candidate in Arabic literature, and has been teaching at Dartmouth College. Poet, novelist, filmmaker, editor and translator, Antoon is a senior editor with the Arab Studies Journal; his poems and articles have appeared in The Nation, Middle East Report, al-Ahram Weekly and Banipal. He has published a novel and a volume of poems in Arabic, and his translations of his own poems were anthologized in “Iraqi Poetry Today.”

The evening will also feature a selection of Iraqi music presented by Layaali, a Massachusetts-based Arabic music ensemble that has performed traditional music of the Arab world throughout the U.S. and internationally, winning wide acclaim for their hypnotic instrumental improvisations, soulful vocals and faithful renditions of master works. The musicians include Jamal Sinno (“qanum” and vocals), Muhammed Mejaour (“nay” and percussion), Kareen Roustom (“oud”), Michel Moushabeck (“tabla,” “riqq,” “daff”), and Geena Ghandour (vocals).

The reading will be followed by a booksale. For further information, call Cindy Furtek in the Poetry Center office at (413) 585-4891 or Ellen Doré Watson, Poetry Center director, at (413) 585-3368.

Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
F (413) 585-2174

Smith in the News

News Releases

Contact Us

DirectoryCalendarCampus MapVirtual TourContact UsSite A-Z