On 6 October 2020, the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) organised a free a bilingual reading session with Arabic, Turkish and Persian texts, as part of their ongoing 43rd Annual Conference.

The virtual session kicked off with Julie Yelle’s reading of The Blind Cart by Nasser Rabah, which was translated by Yelle and Joanna Chen.

Yelle is a linguist and translator from Washington DC, with an MA in Arabic Linguistics from the University of Texas, Austin, and a BSFS in Middle Eastern Studies from Georgetown University. A 2011–2012 Centre for Arabic Study Abroad fellow in Egypt, her translations have appeared in Consequence Magazine and an OOMPH! Press multilingual anthology.

Nasser Rabah is a Palestinian poet whose other works include Heart with Windows but No Doors (translated by Saleh Razzouk and Philip Terman), as well as two poems translated by Chen in Consequence and two more poems in OOMPH! anthology.

Yelle’s reading was followed by Paula Haydar, Nadine Sinno and Jabbour Douaihy reading from the Arabic and English editions of Douaihy’s The Vagrant, shortlisted for the 2012 International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

Haydar is an Arabic professor at the University of Arkansas and has translated twelve contemporary Arabic novels into English. She graduated from the same university with an MFA in Literary Translation and a PhD in Comparative Literature. Sinno is also an Arabic professor at Virginia Tech and her works include a translation of Nazik Saba Yared’s Canceled Memories and a co-translation of Rashid al-Daif’s Who’s Afraid of Meryl Streep?, among others.

Jabbour Douaihy is a Lebanese writer and a professor of French literature at the Lebanese University in Beirut. The English translation of his work Autumn Equinox won the Arkansas Arabic Translation Award, while June Rain was nominated for the 2008 Arabic Booker Prize and translated to several languages. He also has to his credit several collections of short stories, children’s books and the novel Chased Away.

The session concluded with a reading of Turkish poet Orhan Veli Kanik’s If I Could Only Set Sail to the Wind by Karolina Dejnicka and Niloufar Talebi’s reading of selected poems by Ahmad Shamlou translated from the Persian.

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