Poetry and Politics in Contemporary Bedouin Society

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Colloquial Bedouin poetry remains a vibrant art that has manifold modern functions: commenting on world affairs; criticizing the domestic policies of Arab states; and highlighti... more on AUC Press

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Colloquial Bedouin poetry remains a vibrant art that has manifold modern functions: commenting on world affairs; criticizing the domestic policies of Arab states; and highlighting poverty, discrimination, the corrupt practices of officialdom, and a compliant local media. Each of the forty-one poems presented here is transliterated and translated into English verse, with historical and contextual annotation. The tone is sometimes bitter, sometimes satirical, sometimes scurrilous, and often amusing. The poems are prefaced with an essay on the practice of modern Bedouin poetry. Included are appendices containing the Arabic script versions of the poems, extensive language notes, and a glossary. “This is an extremely important collection of popular Arabic poetry. . . it is the sheer excellence of the resulting English translations that linger in the mind, providing the reader with a clear picture of a brilliant and continuing tradition of popular improvised poetry that today maintains and fosters a heritage stretching back for centuries.” —Roger Allen, University of Pennsylvania

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