Poetry Review — Modern Sudanese Poetry: An Anthology

Modern Sudanese Poetry

Modern Sudanese poetry is a blend of poetry forms. At its core, it seems much like traditional Arabic poetry of the Mediterranian region, but it contains many different influences. The most substantial influence comes from African tradition. Islam and the Arab influence came later to Sudan than to North Africa, so there is much more of an African flavor to some of the poetry. Other influences may surprise some readers. Russian influence dates from the Cold War and continues still today with economic and political relations. Internal unrest and civil war also add another layer to the poetry.

Through the sixty or so years this anthology covers the reader will see variations of the above themes and combinations of themes. The Arabic style of poetry is well done, and one might have trouble recognizing that it came from outside Palestine or the Middle East. The collection includes biographies of the poets and also lists the translators. This collection is edited and translated by Adil Babikir. He has translated several works, including Mansi: A Rare Man in His Own Way by Tayeb Salih and two novels by Abdelaziz Baraka Sakin. A very well done collection of poetry covering several decades of a now divided nation who still remains underappreciated in the world of poetry.

Our passion for you, Aazza, is firm and stout.
Like mountains we stand, hard to sway.
Our bowstrings, alert and taut,
keep intruders away.
I never forsook my homeland: the land of ultimate beauty;
I always sought perfection, never rested for less.
My heart never throbbed for someone else;
as to the left I lean, take me in your right hand and embrace.
I can never forget Bilal’s orchard
our playgrounds under the shade
like flowers on hilltops
leaping to reach the stars
a palm-frond crescent braided on my forehead.

~ from “My Beloved Aazza” by Khalil Farah

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