As always, translating from Arabic proved to be both rewarding, frustrating - and very slow!
We decided not to try to translate Mostafa Ibrahim's famous poem, 'Manifesto', written in response to the 'Arab Spring' in 2011; composed in Egyptian dialect, 'Manifesto' is a polemical and powerful call to arms that inevitably would seem clumsy in English translation.
Instead we decided to translate one of his lyric poems, 'Balloons', that was published in Mostafa's first collection of poems, Western Union, Haram.
'Balloons' achieves it effects through using a loose variant of the rhetorical figure known as chiasmus. Once we had found a structure of our own for the opening lines, the poem began to fall into place.
After much discussion, we decided to leave the final stanza untranslated. In English, it seems rather sentimental and detracts from the concision of the translation we produced.
Sarah Maguire, Workshop Facilitator