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Sponsored by the Center for Language Studies, Middle East Studies, Literary Arts, The Program in Modern Greek Studies, and the C.V. Starr Foundation Lectureship at Brown University
An influential poetic voice on the Arab literary scene, Nouri Al-Jarrah has lived in exile and been publishing his poetry for nearly 40 years. His poetry draws on diverse cultural sources, and is marked by a special focus on mythology, folk tales and legends.
A Boat to Lesbos is a powerful and compelling epic poem, written while thousands of Syrian refugees were enduring frightening journeys across the Mediterranean before arriving on the small island. Set out like a Greek tragedy, it is passionate and dramatic witness to the horrors and ravages suffered by Syrian families forced to flee their destroyed country, seen through the eye of history, the poetry of Sappho and the travels of Odysseus.
Nouri Al-Jarrah's first collection, Old Boy, mainly written in his hometown of Damascus before he went into voluntary exile, was published in Beirut in 1982, where he was then living. Since 1986 he has been settled in London, publishing 15 further collections, and founding and editing a number of Arabic literary magazines.
A Boat to Lesbos, and other poems, is his first collection in English translation. Also included are poems written while the poet visited Lesbos during the refugee crisis.
The collection has editions in French translation, in Italian, in Turkish, in Spanish, in Persian, and forthcoming in Greek – a truly international response to the torment of the Syrian people during these last few years.
Copies of the book will be at the venue for sale and signing.