Aleppo Diary


*العندليب: بار شعبي في حلب يرتاده كتاب وفنانون

We had the largest ever number of people at this workshop, many of whom had in-depth knowledge of Arabic from very different backgrounds and one of whom, Golan Haji, was a Syrian poet from Aleppo (now living in exile in Paris) who was very helpful indeed in giving us some essential local detail which otherwise we would have missed.

One of the main difficulties we always face in translating from Arabic into English is that English demands a level of concrete specificity absent from Arabic. We first encountered this problem in the second stanza of part 1 when it took some time to work out the exact positioning of what was taking place in relation to the blood and the (tv) screen.

The next stanza was also tricky: did people have red eyes or reddend vision?

For the following line, there was a lot of discussion about getting the tone right: tender but also melancholy.

In part 2, the first line, 'comrades in arms' is like the English expression, 'brothers in arms'; it's affectionate and slightly mocking.

Machado is one of the most important early twentieth-century Spanish poets.

In part 3, 'Swaying Silhouette' is a very famous Syrian song. The bar, The Nightingale, was where all of Aleppo's artists and thinkers would congregate.

Part 4, Marina Shihwaro was killed on 18 June 2012. We didn't have time to tackle this section in the workshop so Sam's fine literal version was tinkered with by Norbert Hirschhorn and Sarah Maguire.

Sarah Maguire, Workshop Facilitator

Note on the original text:

*العندليب: بار شعبي في حلب يرتاده كتاب وفنانون

Faoud Mohammad Faoud, Poet