The NTA Countdown to ALTA42: War Songs

Join us as we count down to ALTA42: Sight and Sound with the National Translation Award in Poetry and Prose long- and shortlisted titles! We will be featuring the titles in alphabetical order alongside blurbs penned by our judges for the National Translation Awards in Poetry and Prose. This year’s prose judges are Bonnie Huie, Charlotte Mandell, and Jeffrey Zuckerman. This year’s judges for poetry are Anna Deeny Morales, Cole Heinowitz, and Sholeh Wolpe.

For quick reference, you may find the NTA longlists here, and the NTA shortlists here. Today we’re shining the spotlight on Poetry NTA longlisted title War Songs:

War SongsWar Songs
by Antarah ibn Shaddad
translated from the Arabic by James E. Montgomery with Richard Sieburth
(Library of Arabic Literature/NYU Press)

War Songs are poems of a tumultuous life replete with unrequited love, pride, anger and unceasing battles in blood-curdling yet sonorous detail. Born in pre-Islamic Arabia to an Arab father and an African mother, warrior-poet ‘Antarah Ibn Shaddad not only evokes clan conflicts but also the struggles of a society in turmoil, where Even the ruins/fell into ruin—/tired playthings/of time/and the thunder/and rain. James Montgomery and Richard Sieburth’s superb translation of this important and extraordinary work is attentive to details and monumental in scope.  The poems bound off the page with the energy and charge demanded by this extraordinary story.

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