We’ve reached the final game of the Poetry World Cup first round and this one’s going to be worth the wait. The winners will be facing Iran in the next round: Payam Feili attracted strong support in yesterday’s match with Malaysia, taking the lead early on and (unlike Eurydice) never looking back. His work remains blacklisted in Iran, and it’s safe to say that his victory won’t be greeted with much enthusiasm by certain members of the Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance.
First to take the field in today’s match (by alphabetical order) is Laotian poet Bryan Thao Worra. He has previously represented Laos as a Cultural Olympian during the 2012 Poetry Parnassus, and he was involved in the SatJaDham Lao Literary Project, promoting the work of Laotian and Hmong writers and artists. In addition to his poetry, he writes experimental fiction drawing on a variety of influences, including sci-fi and horror.
Lebanon’s representative is Wadih Sa’adeh, a widely-travelled journalist and poet currently based in Sydney. Wadih Sa’adeh was born in the village of Shabtin in Northern Lebanon, and self-published his first poetry collection after moving to Beirut, selling handwritten copies on the street. A later collection, ‘Most Likely Due to a Cloud’, was described by the great Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish as ‘one of the most important collections of poetry I have read in recent years.’ Sa’adeh’s work has been translated into a wide range of languages, including German, French and Spanish.
Given a thousand nights,
Can you master even a single word?
Or a dream, a tool, a brain?
Open roads, discover ways,
Flow down a stream, slash at ignorance
With ink and a scrap of paper from a poet’s bag.
Do you ever recall that demons are easy,
But dogs are difficult, even if you have the knack?
Rummage among icons and avatars
Of old gods and vibrant titans too long…
~ Bryan Thao Worra
Hey Allen Ginsberg, I think that the fan is rotating
I am on the curb and my cigarettes ran out
I open my eyes and close them
Sometimes I recall that night when we wiped the spit from the mouths of the dead
Then we descended the stairs together
And took a walk by the sea
The fan is rotating now
And I like to think that the air is a nice squirrel while I lean on myself in the corner
Witnessing my knee falling asleep…
~ Wadih Sa’adeh, trans. Maged Zaher
RESULT: Laos won by 37 votes
Editor’s note: If, for any reason, you’re unable to vote in the poll, please leave the name of the poem/country you’d like to vote for in the comments.