Egyptian writer Mona Anis has received Amed Fouad Negm's award from the hands of and prince Constantijn (photo Prince Claus Foundation).
Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm — who died at the beginning of this month at the age of 84 — was honored on 11 December as the principal winner at the Dutch Prince Claus Award ceremony in Amsterdam. Negm was to have received the award from Prince Constantijn, but instead the price was received by Egyptian writer Mona Anis on his behalf. Anis and Negm, as was announced during the ceremony, had been working a few months before Negm's death on the “first serious translation” of Negm’s poetry into English. The collection ''I Say My Words Out Loud '' is made available online, published by the Prince Claus Fund (click here)
|Ahmad Fouad Negm|
Anis then read from Negm’s 1978 poem “The Prison Ward” in Arabic, the poem organizers said Negm had wanted to read during the ceremony.
This is - in Mona Anis's translation - the first stanza:
Prison ward, listen in:
I’ve shaken the dice many times,
And gambled with everything on
the big prize and lost,
And bitter though prison is,
I’ve never once wanted to repent.
having bid the night guards good
every single one of them,
And the shingi*,
I say we’re wicked inmates all,
though the storeroom clerk
has given us different uniforms.
My first words are for the Prophet;
my second, for Job;
the third are for my estrangement;
the fourth, for my destiny;
My fifth, I will say that he who oppresses others
Will himself be defeated one day
*Turkish military ranks given to the guards, meaning first, second and third.