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Arabic Poetry in the Twenty-First Century: Translation and Multilingualism

In: Journal of Arabic Literature
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  • 1 Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature, Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PAUSA
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Abstract

This paper examines the work of a sample of contemporary Arab prose poets whose poetic investments exceed the linguistic parameters of previous generations. Unlike the pioneers of the prose poem in Arabic in the early 1960s, the poets of this generation are not interested in interrogating Arabic poetic language or reimagining Arabic literary history. Instead, these poets embrace the Arabic literary tradition as an open multi-generic practice exercised in the space between multiple literary and linguistic traditions. This essay shows how their deliberate detachment from the Arabic poetic tradition, as well as from the inheritance of the early modernists, reveals a relationship with the Arabic language that differs from that of their predecessors. Their poetry is thus born translated: it is multilingual and exophonic in its motivations.

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