Tripwire Series: Safaa Fathy, poet and filmmaker in person

The Poetry Center's Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series welcomes poet and filmmaker Safaa Fathy, presenting her work in both poetry and film, and joining in conversation with her audience. This rare appearance by the Egyptian-born artist, visiting from her home in France, is presented with our gratitude to UK and US publishers Pamenar Press (Ghazal Mosadeq) and Litmus Press (E. Tracy Grinnell), whose translated editions of Safaa Fathy's works, Al Haschiche, and Where Not to Be Born, recently appeared. Her work appears also in Another Room to Live In: 15 Contemporary Arab Poets (ed. Omar Barrada & Sarah Riggs, Litmus, 2024). Please join us for this Friday evening program in the Mission, presented in conjunction with Tripwire journal and ATA.

Artists' Television Access (ATA) is located on street level on Valencia at 21st Street; nearby parking often available in the municipal lot across the street on 21st at Barlett. 

VIDEO for this program will be posted after editing at Poetry Center Digital Archive.

  • "Revolutions threaten poetry with loss of the intimate and the aesthetic. Safaa delves into this threat head-on in order to produce a book that is both beautiful and intimate, where the revolution becomes the daily gesture: "when the tear gas entered my lungs, I decided to start smoking again."... When the world gave up on the notion of revolution, the Tunisians and Egyptians filled the streets to revive it. Revolution goes through walls is political poetry at its best, intimate telling. Where a poet doesn't scream her revolt, she murmurs it." —Maged Zaher

Safaa Fathy was born in Egypt, and is a poet, essay writer, and filmmaker. She is the author of Al Haschische (Pamenar Press, 2023, translated by Patrick Love, with the author), an experimental book of poetry existing in relation to her 2007 film Hidden Valley. Where Not to Be Born (Litmus Press, 2024, translated by Rawd Wehbe) brings together poems from four original Arabic-language books published between 1989 and 2010, encompassing a selection of works representing Fathy’s wide-ranging, richly allusive, and cinematically-inflected poetic practice. An earlier book of poetry, Revolution Goes Through Walls (SplitLevel Texts, 2018, translation by Pierre Joris), was first published in Egypt, then in France, Brazil, and the US. Her plays Terror and Ordeal were prefaced by Jacques Derrida, with whom she co-wrote Tourner les mots. She also experiments with the visual texture of poems in filmic forms. Name to the Sea, a film-poem structured within a still frame, is being published along with the text in seven languages (Vanilla planifolia, Mexico City). She has been writing a novel in English for the past five years.

Safaa Fathy participated in the 47th Annual Poetry Project Marathon with a short piece entitled “I Would Like to Say,” and in the recent 24-hour International Reading for Freedom of Expression & Solidarity with Palestine, by way of an introduction to and screening of her outstanding 1996 film portrait of French-Jewish historian of Islam and Arabic peoples, Maxime Rodinson Atheist of the Gods. Fathy’s films are made available by Tamaas.org.

Related event

Mazza Writer in Residence Priscilla Wathington with Colette Ghunim and Sara Maamouri

Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series: Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse and Shook, at Medicine for Nightmares

  • Mask requested for in-person attendance
  • Tune in to the video livestream

The Poetry Center, in conjunction with Tripwirea journal of poetics, and together with our friends at Medicine for Nightmares, presents this latest program in the Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series. Our honored guests are Alana Marie Levinson-Labrosse and Shook, prolific poet-translators whose work is devoted to persecuted languages and endangered literatures, with an emphasis on a relational, not extractive, approach to translation. They are joined by their friend and co-worker Zêdan Xelef, poet-translator and presently graduate student in the MFA writing program at SF State, as interlocutor and representative of The Poetry Center. Please join us!

This event is free and open to the public.

Now in its fifth year, the annual Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series focuses on cultural and poetic work seen from outside narrow nation-state points of view, presenting poets and related artists often deeply engaged in the poetics and politics of translation and offering models for practice.

Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse is a poet, translator, and assistant professor at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS). She earned her PhD in Kurdish studies at the University of Exeter, specializing in 19th-century poetry, and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College as well as an MEd from the University of Virginia. Her writing has appeared in Modern Poetry in TranslationWorld Literature Today, In Other WordsPlumeEpiphanySewanee Review, the Iowa Review, and Words Without Borders. Her book-length works include Kajal Ahmed's Handful of Salt (2016), Abdulla Pashew's Dictionary of Midnight (2019), Nali’s My Moon Is the Only Moon (2021), and Farhad Pirbal’s The Potato Eaters (2023). She is a 2022 recipient of an NEA Translation grant, serves as the director of Kashkul, and was the founding director of the Slemani UNESCO City of Literature.

Shook is a poet, translator, and editor. Their debut collection Our Obsidian Tongues has had poems translated into Arabic, French, Isthmus Zapotec, Kurmanji, Japanese, Mandarin, Sorani, Spanish, Swedish, and Uyghur. The book was adapted into a short film in Rwanda, and published in Chile as Lenguas de obsidiana in late 2019. In 2013 Shook founded nonprofit publishing house Phoneme Media, which has since published over thirty books translated from twenty-six different languages, including the first ever literary translations from languages like Lingala and Uyghur. Shook has translated over fourteen books from Spanish and Isthmus Zapotec. They are currently Artist in Residence at Kashkul, an arts and research collaborative at the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani, a Visiting Teaching Fellow at Manchester Metropolitan University’s Writing Program, and a Fellow at the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the University of Southern California. Read their recent writing from Iraq about young Êzîdî poetsKurdish manuscript preservationists, and Rhojelat installation art

Video, other programs in the series:

Etel Adnan, a Memorial Tribute: May 14, 2022

Momtaza Mehri and Zoé Samudzi: March 13, 2021

Cardboard House Press/Cartonera Collective: Giancarlo Huapaya, Omar Pimienta, José Antonio Villarán, and Friends: November 8, 2019

Cardboard House Press: Giancarlo Huapaya, Omar Pimienta, José Antonio Villarán: November 7, 2019

Antena: Jen Hofer and John Pluecker: September 27, 2018

John Pluecker and Jen Hofer: September 26th, 2018

Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series: Momtaza Mehri and Zoé Samudzi, reading and in conversation

Watch the unedited video at YouTube before the finished program gets posted at Poetry Center Digital Archive

With emcee, alex cruse

This remote-access event starts promptly at 12:00 pm Pacific Time, and is free and open to the public. Real-Time Captioning link will be provided at the event. Media Captioning provided after the event, at our YouTube channel and at Poetry Center Digital Archive. For other reasonable accommodations please contact poetry@sfsu.edu

Please note early start-time, to accommodate our guest and audience in the UK, and elsewhere.

For our third program in the Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series, we are delighted to welcome two of the more outstanding young Black writers and intellectuals at work in the US and UK. Momtaza Mehri, in London, and Zoé Samudzi, here in the Bay Area, will each read from their work, engage in conversation with one another and with emcee alex cruse, and respond to questions from the audience. We welcome this rare opportunity to bring these two Afro-diasporan writers and thinkers together across continents.

  • “...A poet is drenched in a singularity, sodden with its viscous specificity. A poem speaks for itself exactly when it declares it speaks for others. The Black poet is an isotope of both hope & despair. The Black poet is both a reluctant & enthusiastic interlocutor of what is known as the Black condition, which conditions & structures the World that invented it. The Black poem asks you where it hurts & demands no particular answer. The Black poet knows this is a question one can spend a life trying to answer....”
    —Momtaza Mehri, "Harlem Is Hijaz Is Havana Is Harar, Or: The Whole Point of the Black Arts Movement Is That They Were Moving"
  • “We [Afro-]diasporans joke often about the genre of poetry and prose born out of a longing for a motherland animated only by hungry verses. There’s a cowardice to this: nostalgic memory, a narrativized nostalgia for memories and experiences and beauty that never belonged to you, is easy. But situating oneself in the wake and afterlife of those traumas and beautiful/beautified struggles is far harder still.”
    —Zoé Samudzi on Momtaza Mehri, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Summer 2020

Momtaza Mehri is a poet and independent researcher. Her work has been widely anthologised and has appeared in Granta, Artforum, The Guardian, BOMB, and Real Life Mag. She is the former Young People’s Laureate for London. Her latest pamphlet, Doing the Most with the Least, was published in 2019 by Goldsmiths Press. Her sugah. lump. prayer was included in the chapbook box set New-Generation African Poets, edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani (African Poetry Book Fund/Akashic Books, 2017). More here.

  • As Black as Resistance [by Zoé Samudzi and William C. Anderson] is an urgently needed book…a call to action through an embrace of the anarchy of blackness as a recognition and a refusal of the deathly logics of liberalism and consumption. In the face of the ever expanding carceral state, levels of inequality, environmental degradation, and resurgent fascism, this book offers a map to imagining the liberated futures that we can and mus and do make.”
    —Christina Sharpe, author of In the Wake: On Blackness and Being

Zoé Samudzi is a writer, photographer, and a doctoral candidate in Medical Sociology at the University of California, San Francisco. Her writing has appeared in The New InquiryWarscapesTruthoutROAR MagazineTeen VogueBGDBitch MediaOpen Space, and Verso, among others. With William C. Anderson, Samudzi is coauthor of As Black as Resistance: Finding the Conditions for Liberation (foreword by Mariame Kaba, AK Press, 2018). More here.



Tripwire: a journal of poetics

Tripwire Pamphlet Series

Momtaza Mehri, Granta Podcast, Ep. 94, October 7, 2020

Momtaza Mehri, "Poets Should Ride the Bus: On Diane di Prima (1934–2020)," at Verso Books, November 3, 2020

Momtaza Mehri at Open Space, 2018

"Blackness As a State of Matter: A Conversation with Zoé Samudzi," by Will Furtado, at Contemporary And, C&'s Top Articles of 2019

Zoé Samudzi at Open Space, 2018–2019


View earlier events in the Tripwire Cross-Cultural Poetics Series