I chanced on this wonderful event by accident. I was at Glasgow Women’s Library for my normal volunteering stint on Wednesday morning when Magi Gibson, Reader in Residence, told me it was happening that afternoon. I decided to stay on and was very glad I did.
A bird is not a stone is a collection of contemporary Palestinian poetry in its original Arabic, with translations into English and sometimes Scots or Shetlandic. One of the poets, Maya Abu al-Hayyat, read from her work and Magi and Christine de Luca read the English and Shetlandic versions respectively. These had been created using “bridge translations.” This was a new phrase to me, but it means that the poems were first translated literally, then handed over to the Scottish poets to write their own versions. One of the translators, Abla Oudeh of Edinburgh’s centre for Islamic Studies, also read and joined in the conversation. This covered not only the poetry itself but the difficulties of making progress on women’s rights in Palestine in its current situation, and the effect of that situation on its children. As Maya pointed out, if a child is aged 6, he or she will have already lived through 3 wars. Horrifying.
As well as Magi and Christine, Scottish contributors to A bird is not a stone include Alasdair Gray, Liz Lochhead and Jackie Kay. Since the event, I’ve discovered it has its own blog on which you can watch Maya and Christine reading (at the Edinburgh event). I’ve ordered the book for myself from my local bookshop (I’m trying to wean myself off Amazon and Waterstones) and it can also be purchased from its publisher, Freight Books. Finally, there are some great images of the event on Dominique Carton’s site – and a lovely compliment for GWL from Henry Bell, the book’s editor:
I can’t wait for my book to arrive!