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Remembering Sargon Boulus, five years on
On 22 October 2012 we remember Sargon Boulus, who died in Berlin on this day five years ago. As we were getting ready to celebrate 10 years of Banipal with Banipal 30, we had the sad task of saying farewell to him. His loss was described for all of us as "a gaping wound in the heart of modern Arabic poetry" by Sinan Antoon, who translated for Banipal 30 some of the hundreds of tributes and articles about Sargon in the Arab world.
Sargon was a beloved friend, and contributing editor of Banipal from its beginings, who ate, drank, slept poetry. He spent all his days writing, reading, translating or talking about poetry – as well as cracking a few jokes and enjoying eating hamburger and chips and a nice drink of Absolut or red wine.
Sargon was not really aware, until in his last few years, of the influence his own poetry (always written in Arabic) had among young Arab poets, as well as the copious translations he did of major English-language poets. He was working on several translations when he died, and his publisher, friend and fellow Iraqi poet, Khalid al-Maaly, of Dar al-Jamal, has been working to get them published.
To commemorate Sargon Boulus on the fifth anniversary of his death Khalid al-Maaly is very pleased to announce the publication of four works of translation by Sargon Boulus.
The first, Howl by Allan Ginsberg, was published in Mahmoud Darwish's literary magazine Al-Karmel in the 1990s but never in book form. The other three are by major influential poets in the English language and were manuscripts Sargon had been working on when he died: Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes and volumes of Selected Poems by W H Auden and by W S Merwin.
Allen Ginsberg: Ted Hughes:
Howl & other poems Birthday Letters
& other poems
W H Auden: W S Merwin:
Selected Poems Selected Poems
Before Sargon died, Banipal had been working with him on a collection of his own work that he had translated into English. After that fateful day in October 2007, work ceased, but then, in 2009, Banipal published Knife Sharpener, a posthumous commemoration and celebration of Sargon Boulus. The volume collected together all his poems, written between 1991 and 2007, that he had translated
himself, an essay "Poetry and Memory", written a few
months before he died, and the tributes and photographs with fellow poets from many different countries, published in Banipal 30.