Nizar Sartawi

nizar-sartawiNizar Sartawi is a poet, translator, essayist, and columnist. He was born in Sarta, Palestine, in 1951. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Jordan, Amman, and a Master’s degree in Human Resources Development from the University of Minnesota, U.S. Sartawi is a member of the Jordanian Writers Association, General Union of Arab Writers, and Asian-African Writers Union. He is also a member of the Poetry Posse, and an organizing member of C.O.P.s for World Healing, World Peace Poetry in the U.S. He has participated in poetry readings and international forums and festivals in Jordan, Lebanon, Kosovo, Palestine and Morocco.

Sartawi’s first poetry collection Between Two Eras was published in Beirut, Lebanon in 2011. His poetry translations into Arabic include: The Prayers of the Nightingale, selected poems by Indian poet Sarojini Naidu (2013); Fragments of the Moon, selected poems by Italian poet Mario Rigli (2013); The Souls Dances in its Cradle, selected poems by Danish poet Niels Hav (2015); Searching for Bridges, selected poems by American poet Margaret Saine (2016); and The Talhamiya, selected poems by Palestinian poet Nathalie Handal (2016). Sartawi’s Arabic poetry translations into English include Contemporary Jordanian Poets, Volume I (2013); The Eyes of the Wind, selected poems by Tunisian poet Fadhila Masaai (2014); The Birth of a Poet, selected poems by Lebanese poet Mohammad Ikbal Harb (2015, 2016); Haifa and other Poems, selected poems by Palestinian poet Samih Masaud (2016); and The Pearls of Grief, selected poems by Lebanese poet Abdulkarim Baalbaki (2016).

Sartawi has been working for the last four years on a translation project, “Arab Contemporary Poets Series.” So far he has completed 13 books. He also has translated poems for a number of international poets including: American poets Veronica Golos and Elaine Equi; American-African Poet William S. Peters; American-Indian poet Kalpna Singh-Chitnis; American Palestinian Naomi Shihab Nye; Afghanistani poet Zohra Saed; Canadian poet Candice James; Canadian-Indian poet Ashok Bhargava; Filipino poets Santiago Villafania and Virginia Jasmin Pasalo; Iranian poet Rosa Jamali; Italian poet Maria Concetta Arezzi; Japanese poet Taro Aizu; Kosovar poets Fahredin Sheho, Jeton Kelmendi and Sali Bytyqi; Macedonian poet Pande Manoylov. Sartawi’s poems have been translated into several languages. His poetry has been anthologized and published in books, journals, and newspapers in Arab countries, the U.S., Australia, Indonesia, Bosnia, Italy, the Philippines, and India. He writes a monthly column for Inner Child Magazines under “International Poetry Affairs.”
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Leaf

Little lonely leaf
knocking on the glass door
with your whole feeble
form
gaping at me
begging for
refuge!

Poor purplish fragile fugitive
Tired –
of running away
from nook to nook?
Threatened –
by the ruthless autumn wind
and unheralded rain?
Frightened –
by the heavy plodding pedestrian feet
the hideous hooves
and horrendous hoops?

Come in
tiny timid tramp!
Let’s sit
side by side
to tell silently our sad story
and voicelessly lull each other
to sleep.

… For I too
am but a deciduous
leaf
counting the days
before its fall
.

Two Lessons in Obscenity
.

Lesson 1

the little
kindergarten girl
came
a little
closer to
the little
kindergarten boy
and whispered in his
little
ear

i love you

the big
eyes roaming the room
now wide open

the big
watchful mouth
agape

never ever again!

waving
a big
bamboo stick
.

LOVE

spelling and counting on her
big
fingers

L
O
V
E

is a
FOUR-LETTER WORD

and that was
the little
kids’ first lesson in

OBSCENITY
.

Lesson 2

later that morning
the little kindergarten brat
was heard to say
to her –
the same little naughty kindergarten girl –
i wanna kiss you
big bamboo stick nervously shaking
big eyes aflame with rage
big mouth
KISS…!

K
I
S
S

and all the kids shouted in unison
is a four-letter word.
.

Her Fragrance

What brings you here
O gentle breeze
Go back,
I beg you,
where you’ve come from…
if you’re not carrying
her fragrance.
.

Diet

And take
our bread too
O self-indulgent
for we are
on a permanent diet
.

Fasting

O you poor and famished
a little patience…
Fast and you will be healthy

*****

NIZAR SARTAWI’S INTERVIEW

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