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Preorder ‡ Wadih Saadeh, A Horse at the Door / A Chronological Selection of Poems

£18.50

Tenement #16 / ISBN: 978-1-917304-02-3
210pp [Approx.] / 140 x 216mm
Translated & selected from the Arabic by Robin Moger
Edited by Dominic Jaeckle
Designed and typeset by Traven T. Croves

Preorder now; forthcoming 10.12.24

With an Afterword by Youssef Rakha.

An English language survey of works by
the celebrated poet, drawing from collections
published between 1968 and 2012.

I had intended my poetry to be a kind of salvation for me in my confrontation with the onslaught of a perpetually antagonistic world. When this confrontation failed, I tried convincing myself that surrendering to the world—being a scrap of paper floating downriver—was the only salvation available to me. But this proved impossible, too.

Wadih Saadeh

In a 2014 AlMayadeen TV interview with the Lebanese poet-host Zahi Wehbe, Wadih Saadeh called his work ‘an autobiography of other people’s lives.’ At this point in the conversation he had already explained that people are essentially alike, so the deeper you plunge into yourself the more you find out about others. Speaking casually, the then sixty-six year old—very arguably the greatest living Arabic poet—did not seem to realise how startling is the idea. Donald M. Murray’s All Writing Is Autobiography is one thing, but to say that poetry is a way to be someone else, and so let someone else be you—that feels like a coup de foudre. A poem, Saadeh told Wahbe, is ‘a momentary, illusory cure’ from the horrors of the world, wounds actually dressed by working, having a family, emigrating. He called the third person, which in Arabic translates to ‘the absent one,’ ‘a shadow self, the self that cannot be present.’ Summoning that inner absence, switching on the reader’s presence, is what the Lebanese master manages, every time.

[...]        

(Youssef Rakha, from his Afterword, ‘The Australian’)

See here for a further word on this title.

See here for Moger’s translation of Saadeh’s ‘Dead Moments,’ ℅ the Cordite Poetry Review.

Stickered editions will carry a cover adornment; a reproduction of a portrait of the poet and his mother, author’s own, date unknown).

Wadih Saadeh was born Wadih Amin Estefan in 1948 in the village of Chabtine in northern Lebanon. As a young man he moved to Beirut where he first began to write poetry and where, in 1973, he would distribute handwritten copies of his first collection, The evening has no siblings. He lived and travelled between Beirut and Europe—Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece and Cyprus—until in 1988 he finally emigrated with his family to Australia, where he lives now: ‘a village farmer, resident in Sydney.’ A figure of central importance in the development of the Arabic prose poem, his published collections are as follows ...

The evening has no siblings (1981) /
يس للمساء إخوة

(In two parts—the first written between 1968 and 1973, the second between 1973 and 1980—that were published together in a single volume in 1981.)

The water, the water (1983) /
المياه المياه

A man in second-hand air sits and thinks of animals (1985) /
رجل في هواء مستعمل يقعد ويفكر في الحيوانات

Seat of passenger who left the bus (1987) /
مقعد راكب غادر الباص

Because of a cloud most probably (1992) /
بسبب غيمة على الأرجح

An attempt to join two banks with a voice (1997)
محاولة وصل ضفتين بصوت

The text of absence (1999)
نص الغياب

Dust (2001)
غبار

Darning the air (2006)
رتق الهواء

Another configuration of the life of Wadih Saadeh (2006)
تركيب آخر لحياة وديع سعادة

Who took the glance I left before the door (2011)
من أخذ النظرة التي تركتها أمام الباب؟

Tell the passer-by to return, he left his shadow (2012)
قل للعابر أن يعود, نسي هنا ظله

Translations of individual poems and collections have been published in a number of European languages, most frequently his Lebanese civil-war collection Because of a cloud most probably. In English, many translations of his poems can be found online, and in anthologies such as Crack in the wall: New Arab Poetry (Saqi Books, 2001) and Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond (Norton, 2008). The only published English-language volume dedicated to his work is Anne Fairburn’s A secret sky (Ginninderra Press, 1997), which contains poems from his 1992 collection.

Robin Moger is a translator of Arabic to English who lives in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat. His translations of prose and poetry have appeared widely. His most recent publications include Strangers in Light Coats (Seagull Press, 2023)—a collection of the poems of Palestinian poet Ghassan Zaqtan—and Traces of Enayat by Iman Mersal (And Other Stories Press, 2023), which was a joint winner of the 2024 James Tait Black Prize for Biography.  

Youssef Rakha is an Egyptian writer of fiction and non-fiction working in Arabic and English. He is the author of the novels The Book of the Sultan’s Seal (Interlink, 2014) and The Crocodiles (Seven Stories Press, 2015), which are available in English, and Paolo, which was on the long list of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2017 and won the 2017 Sawiris Award. The Dissenters (Graywolf, 2025) is his first novel to be written in English.