Incomprehensible Lesson – Poems by Fawzi Karim – English Versions by Anthony Howell

I was honoured to be included on the 2019 shortlist for the Sarah Maguire Prize for Poetry in Translation  for my versions of Incomprehensible Lesson by Fawzi Karim. I feel that Fawzi would have been pleased about this as well.

My versions of the poems of Iraqi poet Fawzi Karim came out, in 2019 from Carcanet

Click here for my essay on Fawzi Karim  together with a selection of his verse in a recent issue of The High Window.


Incomprehensible Lesson:  poems by Fawzi Karim in versions by Anthony Howell after translations made by the Author. Born in Baghdad in 1945 and now living in London, Fawzi Karim is has established a reputation as a major figure in contemporary poetry.  Plague Lands, his first book of poems in translation was a Poetry Book Society recommendation for 2011. Incomprehensible Lesson explores the experience of becoming at home in London, a period of transition, from a sense of exile to a sense of uneasy belonging. The book is prefaced with an introduction by the poet.

Close to my home in Greenford,
The carriages roll to a halt. After long moments
They go on to bisect London.
The line takes me (questions harass) ‘Where?’
To streets, buildings, parks marred by repetition,
So that I prefer my own blurred reflection.
Then I return by the same red line,
Musing how, from Waterloo Bridge,
The scene’s perfection amazed me:
Seemed an artistic print, framed in an exhibition,
How the tourists milling there
Scattered such colours – like a wedding breakfast –
Was it some performance on TV?
A lady at a party broke through my precautions.
I found myself once more in the role of exile.
The line goes on and on.  The years
Sit across from me.  I take out my passport.
They want to share its pages.

Here is an initial, rather dreamy reaction to Incomprehensible Lesson

Our first book Plague Lands was published in 2011, also by Carcanet.

For reviews of Plague Lands and further details, please click on this link to reviews of Plague Lands

Further posts and details about my long and productive relationship with this wonderful poet can be found here.  

And here is a  Link to reviews of Incomprehensible Lesson

Anthony Howell’s first collection, Inside the Castle, was brought out in 1969. His most recent book of poems is From Inside, The High Window Press, 2017.

About anthonyhowelljournal

Poet, essayist, dancer, performance artist....
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5 Responses to Incomprehensible Lesson – Poems by Fawzi Karim – English Versions by Anthony Howell

  1. Pingback: LINKS TO NEW POEMS | anthonyhowelljournal

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  3. Pingback: Empyrean Suite – a homage to my friend Fawzi Karim. | anthonyhowelljournal

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