Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

I Left My Home & Other Poems— Rahma Nur

Aug 7, 2023 | Poetry | 0 comments

TRANSLATED FROM THE ITALIAN BY PASQUALE VERDICCHIO AND LOREDANA DI MARTINO

I Left my Home Rahma Nur

Image Used For Representation

 

I LEFT MY LAND

I left my land
the soil I paced on my knees
I left faces clouded by oblivion
I left my sparse words there.

Five years, hadn’t seen my mother in two
I left my land for a new beginning
Toward a face I had forgotten
A faded word: mother, Hooyo.

I left my land and an uncertain future.
I left my land
because my feet did not know how to walk it.
My belly full of emptiness,
my heart silent.
I left my land to heal my legs,
they raised me to my feet,
taught me to walk,
taught me another language.

But I have lost the words of my past.

I no longer crawl
Do not dust-up my legs with sand
and all I would like
is to immerse myself in forgotten words
swim among lost fables,
climb stunted acacias,
lose myself in the gazes
that recognize me as one of them.

Laugh at the stories I do not know
dance and sing the rhythms
that ran through my veins
repeat the sheeko sheeko to my daughter

After all, my words stumble like my legs
My songs are out of tune
and my heart cries
a desperate and wordless lament.


COMPOST (2023)
This land
that welcomes everyone:
the living and the dead
those wrapped in a sudarium,
are consumed with days and months,
feed the earth,
their souls observe from on high,
waiting for everything to be used and exhausted.
Yes, they stay there,
waiting mute and floating like clouds, imperturbable.
The living
sink their nails into the earth,
grab her gifts,
cut and destroy,
build walls and unwind barbed wire,
to divide the living without a soul,
from those living in flight, the defenseless, those animated by hope.
The vulnerable, dressed in used clothes, donated food, negated smiles
The ruthless,
warm in their overcoats,
blind, eyes turned only toward themselves
threaten new walls from the stands of power,
dictating without shame,
they bow before the cross and shoot the innocent.

NOSTALGIA (2023)
Talking about the passing years
My friend mocks me and says
That I am still a little flower
I reply that my petals are somewhat wrinkled
And these playful words said with irony and affection
Gather the wrinkles and heaviness of the body
Forgive old sins and craziness
Allow us to laugh at memories as they arise
Cure the painful wounds of abandonment
And make the present serene
After having made peace with the past.

Also, read Four Unpublished Poems by Elizabeth Grech, translated from the Maltese by Irene Mangion, and published in The Antonym:

Four Unpublished Poems— Elizabeth Grech


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Rahma Nur

Rahma Nur

Rahma Nur, born in Somalia and a naturalized Italian, is a black, dis-abled woman poet, storyteller, and primary school teacher. In 2012, she won the Torino Rotary Club’s 7th Torino Mole Antonelliana award with her story “Volevo essere Miss Italia” (I wanted to be Miss Italia), published in Lingua Madre 2012 – Racconti di donne straniere in Italia (Lingua Madre 2012 – Stories of Foreign Women in Italy). Her stories and poems have been selected and published in numerous magazines and books, like El-Ghibli, La macchina sognante – the dreaming machine, Formafluens e Crocevia. Her recent poem collection Il grido e il sussurro (Cries and Whispers) was awarded “Il paese delle donne” award. Her writings are like a shout that can no longer be held in and, in her words, “one can see and hear the inner voice that emerges when pain, rage and sadness are too much to bear.”

Pasquale Verdicchio, Loredana Di Martino

Pasquale Verdicchio, is Emeritus professor in the Department of Literature, at the University of California, San Diego, where from 1986-2021 he taught literature, film, cultural studies and environmental literature. His poetry, essays, translations from the Italian (which include works by Pasolini, Zanzotto, Caproni, Merini, Lamarque and Atzeni), and photography have appeared through Guernica Editions and other publishers. His poetry collection This Nothing’s Place was awarded the Bressani Prize in 2010.  His most recent publications include Only You (poetry, Ekstasis, 2021), Encounters with the Real in Contemporary Italian Literature and Cinema, co-edited with Loredana Di Martino (Cambridge, 2017), and Ecocritical Approaches to Italian Culture and Literature: The Denatured Wild (Lexington, 2016). In 2015, he was awarded a Muir Environmental Fellowship by Muir College, UCSD. Most recently, he was director of the University of California Study Center in Bologna, from 2017-2020.

Loredana Di Martino is Professor of Italian Studies at the University of San Diego. Her current research focuses on the intersections between Italian literature, gender studies, and postcolonial and transnational studies. Her most recent work has been published in gender/sexuality/Italy and is forthcoming with California Italian Studies. Previously, she has worked on modernism and postmodernism, as well as on contemporary crime and hybrid fiction dealing with migrations, youth violence, fatherhood, and cultural traumas. Her publications on these topics include peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries in addition to the co-edited volume (with Pasquale Verdicchio) Encounters with the Real in Contemporary Italian Literature and Cinema (2017) and the single-authored manuscript Il caleidoscopio della scrittura, James Joyce, Carlo Emilio Gadda e il romanzo modernista (2009).

 

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