Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Half American and half Egyptian, Kareem James Abu-Zeid was born in Kuwait in 1981, and has lived an itinerant life across the Middle East, Europe, and the US. He is a prolific and award-winning translator of poets and novelists from across the Arab world, and also works as a freelance translator of German and French texts. He is currently completing his PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, with a focus on spirituality and modern poetry.
Kareem will participate in a public conversation with Dunya Mikhail about the process of translating Iraqi Nights, and will lead a translation workshop in March 2016.
We Cross Borders Lightly: A Public Conversation on Translating Arabic Poetry
Friday, March 4, 12-1:30 pm
500 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20006
Iraqi Poet Dunya Mikhail and translator Kareem Abu-Zeid will hold a public conversation on the translation of Mikhail’s most recent collection of poetry, The Iraqi Nights. They will discuss the creative collaboration between poet and translator, and the challenges of translating between two languages as different as Arabic and English. They will talk about how to consider nuance, cultural context, politics and beauty in the process of translation. This conversation will be moderated by Lara Vergnaud, an editor and translator who has translated works from the French by Ahmed Bouanani, Mohand Fellag, Joy Sorman, Marie-Monique Robin, and Scholastique Mukasonga. She received a PEN/Heim Translation Grant for her translation of France, story of a childhood, by Zahia Rahmani, which is forthcoming from Yale University Press in 2016. She lives in Washington, D.C.
“Faithful” Translation: An Interactive Workshop with Kareem James Abu-Zeid
Saturday, March 5, 1 – 4 pm
Smith Center for Healing & the Arts
1632 U St NW, Washington, DC 20009
In this practical workshop, participants will have a chance to delve into the nitty-gritty of translating poetry across a cultural and linguistic divide. With a single relatively short Arabic poem as their starting point, each participant will produce their own English translation from “trots” (a thick literal translation) and a phonetic transcription of the Arabic text—no prior knowledge of Arabic is needed. We will then edit the translations together, considering their strengths and weaknesses. This hands-on approach will entail going over some of the frequently forgotten cardinal rules of literary translation, as well as discussing what exactly it means to be “faithful” to a text. All are welcome to attend this fun and interactive workshop, which will be beneficial to anyone interested in the craft of translation, regardless of linguistic background. Preregistration is required for this event.