For the last couple of weeks, I have gone down on Frday or Saturday to the Institute Dominicain d’etudes Orientales (IDEO), to meet with my friend John, a Cairene poet and journalist. John and I have been sharing work, introducing each other to poets from our respective cultures and talking about some possible translations of some of the many untranslated Middle Eastern poets.
The institute itself a peaceful place, with a fabulous library that is dedicated primarily to research in Arabic and Islamic studies. It is located in a working classs neighborhood of Cairo, a shortish walk from the Ghamra subway stop, past the abandoned (and, not atypical of Cairo, dishevelled and pollution stained) Sakakini Palace (my photo below) and just beyond Midan al-Geish. I took the photo above in the gardens at the monestery, which, along with the general vibe at IDEO, reminded me of that line from Lori Anderson-Moseman’s poem, quoted in the subject of this posting. Last week when I visited, John and I had lunch with the visiting researchers and the monks where conversations took place in Arabic, French and English, sometimes all three finding there way into a single sentence.