Mona Kareem

Ancient and new
there is no difference
between one cloud and another
they're all clouds
black and white
no difference, no difference
the same
green hope and dark green disappointment
open window and closed window
steel and air
no difference, no difference
the same
before rain or after rain
with or without sun
with the greenness of hope
or the greenness of disappointment
with or without dialogue
with life or with death,
no difference
except for this unseen thread
whether it is woven
by the ancient or the new
it is all weave
and they are all weavers.

Mona Kareem is the author of three poetry collections, and most recently, the trilingual chapbook Femme Ghosts (Publication Studio). She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and is a Translator-in-Residence at Princeton University. Her translations include Octavia Butler’s Kindred into Arabic (Takween Publishing); Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within (The Operating System), longlisted for the BTBA 2017 awards; and Ra’ad Abdulqadir’s selected poems, Except for This Unseen Thread.


Ra’ad Abdulqadir

ليس من فرق بين غيمة وغيمة، كلها غيوم
السوداء والبيضاء، ليس من فرق، ليس من فرق
الأمل الأخضر والخيبة الداكنة الخضرة
النافذة المفتوحة والنافذة المغلقة
الحديد والهواء، ليس من فرق، ليس من فرق
سيان، قبل المطر أو بعد المطر
بشمس أو من غير شمس
بخضرة الأمل أو بخضرة الخيبة
بحوار أو من دون حوار
بحياة أو بموت
ليس من فرق سوى هذا الخيط الذي لا يرى
إن كان في نسج القدماء أو نسج الجدد
كله نسيج
وكلهم نساجون

Ra’ad Abdulqadir (1953–2003) is a pioneer of the Iraqi prose poem, the author of five poetry collections, and a lifelong editor of Aqlam, Iraq’s leading literary magazine. Except for This Unseen Thread: Selected Poems (Ugly Duckling Presse), translated by Mona Kareem, is his first collection in English translation.


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