The Arabist

Bulaq Podcast

BULAQ is a podcast about contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa. It looks at the Arab region through the lens of literature and at literature through the lens of current events. BULAQ is co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey and produced by Issandr El Amrani. 

 View of Bulaq quarter, Cairo. HAY, Robert, Esq. Illustrations of Cairo, London, Tilt and Bogue, 1840.

View of Bulaq quarter, Cairo. HAY, Robert, Esq. Illustrations of Cairo, London, Tilt and Bogue, 1840.

BULAQ: The Arab world in books

BULAQ is a podcast about contemporary writing from and about the Middle East and North Africa. It looks at the Arab region through the lens of literature and at literature through the lens of current events.

BULAQ is co-hosted by Ursula Lindsey and M Lynx Qualey and produced by Issandr El Amrani. 

BULAQ is named after a neighborhood of Cairo that hosted the first active printing press in the region. Established in 1820, the Bulaq Press put out its first publication, an Italian-Arabic dictionary, in 1822.  

MLQ is a book critic, editor, ghostwriter, and literary consultant with a focus on Arab and Arabic literatures, particularly as they intersect with translation. She runs the blog ArabLit.

Ursula is a journalist and book critic who writes about education, literature, and politics in the Arab world. She contributes to The Nation, the New York TimesThe Point and The Arabist blog.   

Both Ursula and MLQ spent many years living in Cairo and are now based in Rabat, Morocco. 

You can subscribe to this podcast using this RSS feed or on iTunes.


23: Poems That Cross Language and Time

We overcame communication blocks and interrupting children to speak to the poet Zeina Hashem Beck about how she’s given herself permission to write poems that move between English and Arabic. We also discuss James Montgomery’s heart-breaking essay on grief, memory, trauma and translating a 7th century Arabic poet famous for her elegies.

Show notes:

  • Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet who lives in Dubai. She won the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize for her second full-length collection, Louder than Hearts (April 2017) as well as the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize for There Was and How Much There Was, chosen by Carol Ann Duffy, as well as many more prizes you can read about on her website.

  • The first of her new “duet poems,” which weave together separate and distinct threads of Arabic and English, appeared in The Lifted Browwith more forthcoming in The Adroit and Modern Poetry in Translation.

  • She read the poem “Blue / أزرق.”

  • James Montgomery, author-translator of Loss Sings, is Sir Thomas Adams’s Professor of Arabic at Cambridge. This collection of Montgomery’s meditations is twined with translations of seventh-century poet al-Khansa’. It is part of The Cahier Series published by Sylph Editions in collaboration with The American University of Paris.

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