Arabic Poetry and Stories Translation Workshops

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Birkbeck, Room 102, 30 Russell Square

‘It was and it was not…’: Translation in Action (from Arabic into English)

Workshop 3

Singing Girls. Poetry, stories and elegy in the songs of the Abbasid qiyan

Professor Marina Warner (Birkbeck)

Professor Wen-chin Ouyang (SOAS)

In conjunction with the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, Birkbeck. Directed by Steve Willey.


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14.30 17.30

Julia Bray is Laudian Professor of Arabic at Oxford, and the first woman to hold what is one of the oldest Chairs in this country. She is a scholar and translator of Classical Arabic literature, exploring its social uses and cultural meanings, especially in relation to medicine and the arts. A member of the editorial board of the Library of Arabic Literature (a series modelled on the Loeb Classics), she is the principal editor of Consorts of the Caliphs by Ibn Sa‘i, the 13th Century account of women poets and philanthropists in the Abbasid era. With Wen-chin Ouyang, she also edits Edinburgh Studies in Classical Arabic Literature.

Wafa Tarnowska is a storyteller, author, and translator from Arabic and French. Her publications include retellings of The Arabian Nights, and The Seven Wise Princesses, inspired by the Persian romance of Nizami.

18:30 – 20:00


Ahdaf Soueif is a novelist, short story writer, essayist, and translator from Arabic (including Mourid Barghouti’s I Saw Ramallah). Her acclaimed novels include In the Eye of the Sun (1993) and The Map of Love (1999), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into 21 languages with over a million copies sold.  She is an activist and commentator on the Middle East, and writes regularly for The Guardian.  Her collected essays have appeared in Mezzaterra: Fragments from the Common Ground (2004) and Cairo: My City, Our Revolution (2012), which was reissued two years later as Cairo: A City Transformed. She is the Founding Chair of PalFest.

Ahdaf Soueif