From the Cradle of Civilization


Dear Readers,

The fifth edition of Life and Legends “From the Cradle of Civilization: Contemporary Arabic Poetry” is now before you. We are thrilled to bring the original and translated work of thirty eight Arabic poets from fourteen Arab nations and the work of several other international writers. A very special thanks to our guest editor Nizar Sartawi for his contributions in putting this special issue together, and for  translating the work of many Arab writers featured in this edition. I’m also thankful to our associate editor Robbi Nester for her ongoing support to Life and Legends, and for helping us pick the best from the submissions we receive.

In general, modern Arabic literature is a reflection of a tumultuous time dating from the age of its revival in the nineteenth and twenty centuries. It is written by the generation of writers born and living under the pressure of a tough social and political climate affected by wars, colonialism and some fractious religious movements. Yet, by reading the work of Arab writers, we come to the realization that despite living in different parts of the world, speaking different languages and celebrating different cultures, we are similar in our hopes and aspirations. In this edition, we bring such poetry, essays and interviews that share those struggles, hopes and aspirations, as well as an understanding that our challenges as a world together aren’t so different after all.

While the work of every writer featured in this edition is unique, and we are grateful to all of them for their contributions, we want to extend our very special thanks to the Nobel Prize and Pulitzer prize nominee, Lebanese-American poet Sam Hamod, winner of the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom, Iraqi-American poet Dunya Mikhail, and acclaimed Palestinian-Jordanian poet and cultural ambassador Nizar Sartawi for accepting our invitation to be interviewed for Life and Legends.

In this edition, we also feature a number of Arab poets living in the diaspora, writing in English, and the work of non-Arab writers. This is to support our mission of fostering cultural inclusiveness and encouraging creative dialogue among writers from both sides of the world, and for them to come together to share their work on one platform.

In the end, we are thrilled to announce that the next edition of Life and Legends (From the Cradle of Civilization series) will focus on the “Contemporary Indian Poetry.” India, known for its diversity recognizes Hindi as an official language, spoken in several states and more or less understood everywhere in the country. However, there are twenty two languages officially recognized in the Indian constitution, that are spoken in twenty nine states and seven union territories of India. “From the Cradle of Civilization” series, focused on “Contemporary Indian Poetry” invites proposals from writers, poets and editors to submit their work translated from any Indian language or written originally in English . We have posted the details on our Submit page and look forward to reading your work.

Hope, you enjoy reading the fifth edition of Life and Legends. We welcome your feedback and proposals emailed to:

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

Editor-in-Chief – Life and Legends
March 7th, 2017.


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