Modern Arab Literature 8th Hour
September 19, 2013
Palfest: A Demanding Literary Festival From May 25-30, Ahdaf Soueif hosted for the sixth consecutive year, the Palestine Festival of Literature. This involved writers, poets, story tellers from all over the world coming and getting a feel of writing. It had authors participate in writing workshops, where they conversed on a piece of writing. Other poets travelled to cities where they met “community workers, hospital managers, musicians, fellow poets, and more. It involved the poets interviewing these people and finding differences between cities. Poets noted that “cities such as Jerusalem and Ramallah brought together a more international crowd, consisting of authors and poets from all over the world” (Palfest Wrap: The Iron). This was in contrast to Haifa and Nablus, where the people were mostly locals.
The event’s aim was to promote cultural and literal understanding through a series of workshops and interviews. These interviews took place in both Arabic and English, although sometimes translation proved to be a problem. For example, “in Nablus, Miéville, a local poet, read a performance-poem-like text about his impressions of the trip in English. The poem consisted of abstract metaphors and endemic to few in the crowd. The Arabic translator took a look at the poem, and immediately clasped his hands and disclosed that it was beyond his capabilities to translate this” (Soueif). Therefore, Miéville was left with no choice but to repeat his poem, without translation, in English to the local crowd of Nablus. Of course, since few in the crowd understood English, the poem did not go down well with the audience. The evenings also included stand-up comedian shows and open mike nights to make the event more accessible to the audience and provide a respite for the authors and the poets.
I think that this was a spectacular idea by Ahdaf Soueif. A literary festival where people come and discuss ideas and works is the best way to learn about the culture. It was a way for the troubled region to receive learning opportunities, and a chance for the visiting authors to learn about the area. Translation is always going to be a problem for anyone. I believe that texts should not be translated from language to language. Translation gets the message across but the price one has to pay is to not get the required meaning. Therefore, it was good to