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Fady Joudah is a practicing physician of internal medicine and an award-winning poet and translator. Among his translations are two poetry collections by Mahmoud Darwish, The Butterfly’s Burden (2007) and If I Were Another, for which he won the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award. He lives in Houston, Texas.

Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me

Yale University Press
2013 Winner
United States

Judges’ Citation

I know the danger, frustration and the joy in the process of catching the fire from the original and delivering it through/into another language, another culture, another sentiment. Mr. Joudah delivered with such grace and power.

What does poetry do? Nothing and everything, like air, water, soil, like birds, fish, trees, like love, spirit, our daily words … It lives with us, in and outside us, everywhere, all the time, and yet, we are too often oblivious of this gift. It’s a poet’s job to bring this gift out and back, this gift that makes us human again. And Mr. Zaqtan has done it. His poetry awakens the spirits buried deep in the garden, in our hearts, in the past, present and future. His singing reminds us why we live and how, in the midst of war, despair, global changes. His words turn dark into light, hatred into love, death into life. His magic leads us to the clearing where hope becomes possible, where healing begins across individuals, countries, races … and we are one with air, water, soil, birds, fish, trees … our daily words pregnant with beauty, and we begin to sing again till ‘ … the singer / and the song / are alike (Biography in Charcoal)’. This is Mr. Zaqtan’s only ‘profession’. It’s now also ours. About the translation: as a translator of poetry myself, I know the danger, frustration and the joy in the process of catching the fire from the original and delivering it through/into another language, another culture, another sentiment. Mr. Joudah delivered with such grace and power. My salute to Mr. Joudah, as translator to translator, as poet to poet, as doctor to doctor.