Dawood Azami, our guest translator, explained that the poem expressed a frequent concern of Liwal’s, that there is only one humanity despite the divisions between societies and religions, that tragedy strikes us the same. This theme is explicitly explored in the poem, when Nature ravages the people in the poem (in the form of the 2004 Tsunami resulting from an earthquake) the adults, understanding their mortality, implore various deities. We chose, in translating these, to retain Liwal’s slightly unusual exclamations, allowing the Islamic context of the speaker of the poem be implied (‘Lord’ rather than ‘Allah’) and letting the unlikely pleading toward ‘Moses’ stand (rather than transposing it to ‘Yahweh’ for instance). This oddness seemed somehow fitting to trapdoor irony that poem seemed at times to contain, where lines such as “First they laughed at the tremors then died / They were blessed not to know” left us with unsure feet. What was certain, throughout, was the sincerity of feeling and the anger at the misplaced energies of ‘sane’ people, those “warriors” whose a bloodlust “Nature helped...have their fill”.
Edward Doegar, Commissioning Editor