PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
Digital Access to PN Review
Access the latest issues, plus back issues of PN Review with Exact Editions For PN Review subscribers: access the PN Review digital archive via the Exact Editions app Exactly or the Exact Editions website, you will first need to know your PN Review ID number. read more
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Drew MilneTom Raworth’s Writing ‘present past improved’: Tom Raworth’s Writing
(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott 1930–2017
(PN Review 235)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Oxford University Press
Gratis Ad 1
Next Issue Kei Miller on poetry and volume control Parwana Fayyaz's Afghan poems Gabriel Josipovici bids farewell to Aharon Appelfeld Craig Raine plants a flag A.R. Ammons from two angles

This report is taken from PN Review 198, Volume 37 Number 4, February - March 2011.

Amjad Nasser 'Cavafy's Mask' Fady Joudah
In 1979, the Jordanian poet Amjad Nasser became the first Arab poet to quote Constantine Cavafy when he began his first poetry collection, Praise for Another Café (which he wrote while living in Beirut), with an epigraph from Cavafy's 'The City':

You won't find a new country, won't find another shore.

This city will always pursue you. You will walk
the same streets, grow old in the same neighborhoods,
will turn gray in these same houses.
You'll always end up in this city. Don't hope for things elsewhere:
there is no ship for you, there is no road.
As you've wasted your life here, in this small corner,
you've destroyed it everywhere else in the world.

The Jordanian poet was haunted by its prophetic words that spelled out his own exile for him right from the start. Amjad Nasser had just moved to Beirut, and would later, after a few short sojourns across the Mediterranean, move to London where he has lived and worked since 1987.

The excerpt above was translated into Arabic by none other than the Iraqi poet Saadi Yussef, who has been a Londoner for quite some time, and who was the first to introduce Arab readers to Cavafy's selected works, Farewell to Alexandria, which he translated and published in 1979, months before Amjad's first collection. Later on, various translations and studies of Cavafy's work would appear across the Arab world, especially ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image