Cat Lying in Wait by Shakila Azizzada
I had the opportunity to meet Shakila Azizzada at her home when I travelled to the Netherlands on other business. During this visit, it was a pleasure to get to know Shakila and her family and learn about her life and the story of her immigration to the Netherlands. This provided valuable context for understanding her creative work and inspirations, and paved the way for a warm and positive working relationship.
She gave me copies of nine previously published poems and two new ones and I annotated them as we discussed them in depth. She described the circumstances that had inspired individual poems’ composition and the people to whom they were dedicated. She also explained metaphors and phrases that were either highly personal, or rooted in the colloquial language of Kabul, whose meanings were not readily apparent to me. In a few cases, since the Persian second and third-person singular pronouns are not gender-specific, she clarified these as well. There is also a tendency for the poet to address herself in a poem in the second person, so she clarified where in certain places 'you' in fact meant 'I'
Following this very fruitful meeting, I made literal translations of these poems and three further ones, clarifying a few further points with Shakila over Skype. I then met Mimi in London and we went over all the poems in detail, passing on Shakila’s explanations: another warm and productive meeting. I also read the poems out for Mimi in Persian, which she understands at a conversational level, to allow her to hear the rhythm and any instances of word play or double meanings, and later created recordings for her that she could listen to when necessary.