SOAS University of London

Centre for Cultural, Literary and Postcolonial Studies (CCLPS)

Arabic Poetry and Stories in Translation: 'Loss Sings' with James E. Montgomery and Marlé Hammond

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Date: 18 January 2019Time: 2:30 PM

Finishes: 18 January 2019Time: 7:30 PM

Venue: Birkbeck

Type of Event: Workshop

James E. Montgomery, Loss Sings
(Cahier 32, Sylph Editions, Paris, 2018)

In this deeply personal meditation, part prose memoir, part poetry translation, James E. Montgomery explores memory, grief and the consolatory power of words through the prism of his personal circumstances. Cahiers is a series of publications about translation by writer/translators, and in this latest publication, Montgomery refracts his thoughts with renderings of the laments that the 6th-Century poetess al-Khansa’ wrote after her two brothers died in battle. The text spans a fortnight, ending on 11 September 2017, 16 years after Montgomery witnessed, from his Greenwich Village window, the haunting and ‘strange beauty’ of the day’s catastrophe. He has commented on the process of making this opuscule: ‘Translation is also mourning for what we want to retain, what we value and cherish; it is, equally, mourning for what we know we must lose’.


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James E. Montgomery is Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic at the University of Cambridge and Fellow of Trinity Hall. He is the author of Al-Jahiz: In Praise of Books, the editor-translator of Ahmad ibn Fadlan’s Mission to the Volga, and most recently translator of War Songs by Antara; he is also Executive Editor of the Library of Arabic Literature

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Marlé Hammond is Senior Lecturer in Arabic Popular Literature & Culture at SOAS University of London. She is the author of Beyond Elegy: Classical Arabic Women’s Poetry in Context.


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