These Are Not Oranges, My Love
These Are Not Oranges, My Love is the selected poems of poet and intellectual, Iman Mersal as translated by Khaled Mattawa. Spanning about a decade’s work beginning in the mid’90s (poems are collected from all but her debut book), These Are Not Oranges follows Mersal from the small town in Egypt where she was born and raised, to a journalism career in Cairo and eventually to Edmonton, where she is currently a professor at the University of Alberta.
Marshal’s poetry encompasses a rarely acknowledged modern Arab feminism, one that is well-read and quick-witted, with an unrelenting sexuality (not dissimilar to the tone of Maram Al-Massri’s A Red Cherry on a White-Tiled Floor). A contemporary voice that is educated and enlightened, able to find humour in its own tragic tales– whether talking about God, coping with a parent’s illness, having an awkward encounter with a lover or challenging a cultural moment. Mattawa, who has brought this originally Arabic work into English says in his introduction, “urban and liberated, the speaker of Mersal’s poems smokes, drinks, falls in love, has affairs, takes anti-depressants, goes to the opera, laughs sincerely and bitterly, and cries and laughs at herself crying.” What else do you want? Parental approval, jabs at Marx and a strong sense of self? That’s here too. (Tara-Michelle Ziniuk)
by Iman Mersal, translated by Khaled Mattawa, $18.50, 90 pgs, The Sheep Meadow Press PO Box 1345, Riverdale, NY, 10471 uSA, sheepmeadowpress.com