The Water People



Featured poets: Vénus Khoury-Ghata

Featured translators: Marilyn Hacker

Poetry Book Society Translation Choice for Autumn 2022

Vénus Khoury-Ghata is an outstanding figure in contemporary literature, with a prolific output in both poetry and prose. She is celebrated for her immersive landscapes and folkloric narratives, drawn from her upbringing in Lebanon but expressed in the language of France, where she has lived since 1972. In Khoury-Ghata’s poetry, Arabic and French literary traditions merge like water from the river and the waterfall. Her mesmeric sequences plunge us into a semi-surreal world where humans and trees, plants, animals and the elements themselves are intertwined and yet forever fluid – a world where we are urged to leave our ‘voices behind’, to ‘listen better’. This book presents an extended extract from her 2018 collection Gens de l’eau, and includes an afterword by Karen McCarthy Woolf.

The Poetry Translation Centre’s World Poet Series showcases the most exciting living poets from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.

"River-fresh and supple in Marilyn Hacker’s English translation, Khoury-Ghata’s voice has the authority and cadence of the practised story-teller. While morally alert, she avoids message-preaching, dodges abstraction. Symbols are never merely symbolic but tangible objects, weighed in the hands, felt under the feet. Readers will find themselves spellbound into a circle of enchanted childhood as they follow the narrative rhythms and shifting moods - sometimes joyous, sometimes elegiac, and sometimes expressing a fine defiance."
- Carol Rumens

ISBN: 9781739894801
Format: Paperback
Size: 178 x 111mm, 66 pages
Languages: French, English