Where Not to Be Born

By Safaa Fathy

Translated by Rawad Wehbe


Litmus Press
Original Language(s)
Additional Credits
Cover Art by Taraneh Mosadegh
Design by HR Hegnauer
Poetry, Translation
Edition, Year
First, 2023

Where Not to Be Born by Safaa Fathy, translated from Arabic by Rawad Wehbe, is a selection of poetry that encapsulates Fathy’s cinematographic and philosophical renderings, tenderly celebrating humanity’s capacity for revolt. This volume is presented in English and the original Arabic and includes a postface by Jean-Luc Nancy.

Safaa Fathy
Safaa Fathy was born in Egypt. She is a poet, essay writer, and filmmaker. She is the author of Al Haschische (Pamenar Press, 2023), an experimental book of poems. Her plays Terror and Ordeal (Lansman, 2004) were prefaced by Jacques Derrida, with whom ... Read More
Rawad Wehbe
Rawad Wehbe studies Arabic poetry, poetics, and literary theory. At the University of Pennsylvania, he is currently writing a dissertation on the mukhaḍramūn poets who lived between the pre-Islamic and Islamic era, focusing on the network of emotions surrounding the ... Read More

Praise for Where Not to Be Born

Vibrating with rich imagery rooted in Fathy’s long experience in film, this is a distinctly urban poetry that demands accountability while also offering compassion rooted in deep listening—to the body, to history, to others—and to the ongoing conversation that is the attentive life. The I and the you at the heart of this collection continually shift and overflow to encompass a vigorous humanity. A riveting work that gives English readers new access to this important voice in contemporary Arabic poetry in all its great range.
— Cole Swensen

It is refreshing to witness the publication of حيث لا نولد, a bilingual edition that not only reaffirms Rawad Wehbe’s expertise in translation but also offers Arabic readers the opportunity to embrace the potent sonic resonance of Safaa Fathy’s elegant and enigmatic constellated imagesan alchemical transformation of song, pain, and imagery into polyvalent poetry. This collection encapsulates Safaa Fathy’s cinematographic and philosophical renderings, while tenderly celebrating humanity’s capacity for revolt. She navigates the currents of language, swimming through depths while also fiercely resisting its constraints: “Perhaps I might speak in another language so as not to put names onto things, things that rotate around the axis of their names.”
— Ghazal Mosadeq

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