Who Are You, Blogger?

That's me all right.

It doesn’t much matter who I am.

If you read ArabLit, you’re probably here for news of Arabic literature, or fresh literary voices, or chitter-chatter about Arabic-English translation. Does M. Lynx Qualey, the person behind this blog, really have three small children? Did she move to Cairo in August 2001? Does she drive slowly and cough violently at second-hand smoke? Well, yes. Does it matter? Not really.

After all, this blog is not about M. Lynx Qualey. It’s about Arab and Arabic literatures, and thus honesty of critique matters far more than veracity of biographical detail.

Yet with some blogs, biographical detail does matter. With some, it matters deeply. This is particularly the case when biographical details motivate not just real-world sympathies, but real-world actions. In the world of blogs, a bisexual female who writes of being a rape survivor sometimes turns out to be a middle-aged man, and those who extended their sympathy and support feel betrayed. In the world of books, sometimes a writer who says he’s been kidnapped by the Taliban and asks the masses to donate to his causes, well, you know.

So if a talented poet-blogger (or a blogger’s cousin) says she’s been kidnapped by the Syrian government and unjustly imprisoned, like so many others? And if there is no real verification outside the world of that blog? You want and don’t want it to be true.

Certainly, we are all inventing ourselves. In a sense, sure, everything that’s out there is fiction. Humans are always telling stories about ourselves; that’s how we thread a singular “I” through our lives. And yet I’d be lying if I claimed not to have a strong visceral reaction to the feeling that I’ve been fooled.

So, even though I don’t like sharing personal information, this felt like a day to out myself. I believe this is the only piece of memoir I’ve written although that, I suppose, could be wrong.

27 replies

  1. Dear M. Lynx Qualey,

    It’s a moving story!
    Can I have your email address I would like to send you a review with 3 translated poems by an Iraqi poet living in Lonodn.

    Best wishes,
    Ghareeb Iskander

  2. With due respect, I disagree that, “It doesn’t much matter who I am.”

    It matters. Even though a blog such as this one focuses not upon the author but upon a the author’s passions and/or career concerns, the reader wants to feel confident that the author posts from a postition of authority.

    Would readers embrace a blog on Arabic literature written by someone who did not read or write or had not lived in the Middle East, or who had discovered the wonderful world of Arabic literature just last week?

    You are a good writer. Please consider writing other memoir pieces. I suggest that your personal history supports and enhances your readership, all the more so when readers learn about your motivation and your history with regard to both literature and the Middle East.

    • Well, honestly, I’m not very sure that I do post from a position of authority. I have neither a PhD nor substitute academic credentials. (I have an MFA in creative writing, which I suppose would qualify me to make all of this up!) It would be far better if, for instance, Dr. Samia Mehrez would like to blog. Or Dr. Ferial Ghazoul. Or if Youssef Rakha would blog more often.

      I do speak from a position of love, though. That’s certain.

  3. M Lynx — please, enough of all this modesty. Assume your authority. Academic degrees do not constitute authority. Insight, empathy, and knowledge all do. And you quite evidently have all of the above. So if you need it, I’m totally with Marahm, and hereby authorize you to assume the authority you already have.
    You’re needed, so blog on! React, explore, provoke, reveal. The more you do, the more your readers will follow you. Including this new one.

    • Well, surely a little time in an institution studying Arabic literature wouldn’t have hurt me any. BUT so it goes for the mother of X,XXX children, or however many are in my shoe at this point.

      Thanks for your support.

  4. Dear blogger, thank you for telling about yourself. Please excuse me for still calling you BLOGGER, cause just like the examples you listed, we can never know what is true and what is not among what you said:D….. But it doesn’t matter at all, it’s just a world of blog, we all got a chance 2 create a new I, and maybe sometimes this I can be even more real than the I in the real world, cause there’s always too many practical problems in the real world, and here you can tell more about intrapersonality….:D
    Anyway, thank you soooooooooooo much for this wonderful blog, when I found it, I was kind of lit up….cause it’s just too hard to get information about Arabic Literature here in China, but I really love Arab…
    Thank you again:D

  5. Hi,
    I’m iraqi translator, from Basrah. I’ve translated some short stories from english into Arabic, and now I would like to translate into English so could you publish it or just mention to it in this site.
    Thank you>

  6. Dear,
    thanks for the insight and the photo. In my daily struggle to survive in Greater Cairo with two kids( one is a teenager and the other is a fascinating hyperactive child) inside the whirlpool of media and the madness of reality together with all the other burdens, I say in my daily struggle I have wondered about you ever since I startef following your fascinating blog. You did not really say muc about yourself. But oh! You actually did.
    It is simply enlightening and you are never away from the picture though you say nothing about yourself. Your signature is there; and a strong one.
    It is going to be a major blog for Arabic Lit.Good luck

  7. hi
    im magdy almasry, im writer and blogger,
    i have many short stories, i wish to translate it to english,
    can i find someone help me?
    thanks for all
    my email mhk00000@hotmail.com

  8. Dear M. Lynx,

    Thanks so much for including The Brooklyn Rail in your recent post on publication venues for translation. I’m Jen Zoble, one of the two editors of InTranslation, the Rail’s online section featuring literary translation. I just wanted to alert you to the fact that InTranslation, while a part of the Rail, runs on a separate production schedule and has its own submission guidelines. The link you provided to submission guidelines actually doesn’t pertain to us. InTranslation’s (more specific) submission guidelines appear on our home page here: http://intranslation.brooklynrail.org.
    We’d be very grateful if you could update the link. Thanks again!

    Best regards,
    Jen

  9. I hope this gets to the right person.

    I have just discovered this great site from a post on “Information Clearing House” by the Arab Studies Institute, which led me to the Arab Literature site. The post concerned all of the vetoes by the USA of UN Security Council Resolutions and provided a list of them.

    At the end of the list it was explained that the list was prepared with some haste and that a more accurate one was being prepared. If the person preparing that list gets to see this post, could I ask that the Resolution Numbers be included and, if possible, a list of those who opposed the Resolutions as well as any other Vetoes.

    Many thanks
    Brad

  10. I’d like to send you a review copy of a book we have just published by Maher Abou Elsaoud ‘Cairo Paris Melbourne’ (translated from the Arabic).
    Send us your details if you like we are at bpepper@blackpepperpublishing.com – I am the Assistant Editor, Mr A. Polymorph. Some information on the book:

    The author has had four novels and one short story collection published in Arabic. Maher Abou Elsaoud was born in Cairo. He has made short films about cultural differences in Australia. In 2010 he was in Egypt for scriptwriting the movie of his novel The Legend of Schnedar. Shooting was disrupted by Egypt’s Arab Spring. He was active during the Revolution. His book is to be launched by Waleed Aly.

    Cairo Paris Melbourne is three novels in one. Set against Middle Eastern wars from 67 to 03, its Dickensian characters and acute social concerns assume poignancy in light of the Arab Spring. Zoheir struggles to escape the poverty of the ‘City of the Dead’. Ghosts torment his childhood. Family, friends and villains that populate his world are evoked brilliantly through his young eyes. He learns of love and brutality quickly. Entering adolescence he yearns for another place, where he can find his purpose. He secures a visa to Paris in a comic tour de force, cleverly exposing corruption in Cairo. In France he is an immigrant worker, travelling with fellow Egyptians and reading Hamlet. He falls for the fascinating and destructive Caroline, holds a forged passport and is soon on the run from drug dealers in the Algerian quarter of Paris. Struggling with the chasm between East and West, fate leads him towards treachery, arrest and, eventually, Melbourne. Living above a café in Fitzroy, Zoheir descends into meaninglessness, yet finally finds an unexpected reason for living, both redemptive and all consuming. Cairo is an old man crossing a crowded road. Paris is a pretty girl in search of a hero. Melbourne is an innocent child playing in a vast land. Our narrator has a naïve knowingness. Zoheir who becomes known as ‘Prince’ and takes on the persona of Zoheir Oqla, the inventor of tales, has a touch of Scheherazade about him. A novel of the getting of responsibility.
    ISBN 9781876044756 RRP $AUD34.95 333 pgs

  11. Dear Blogger, I write to you and I hope not to disturb you on a literary matter I cannot resolve through normal internet.
    In your page http://arablit.wordpress.com/2010/03/02/arabic-booker-announcement-today-meanwhile-mini-reviews/
    I found that Mr. Boullata translated into English the book “A west day…” by Muhammad Mandi Qandil …but I cannot find the book in English!
    Can you tell me please the edition and year of publication to find it!
    Thank you : )
    Francesca

  12. Thank you! I have just finished the book in Arabic and writing about it… so I am collecting as much as I can and the work of Mr.Boullata could be very useful: do you think it is possible to have it? To whom may I ask it?
    Really beautiful novel anyway!! : )

  13. Are you only interested in literature translated from Arabic? (Sorry to ask, but I just found this blog.) I would like to recommend “Geographies of Light,” a book by the poet Lisa Suhair Majaj.

  14. Happy Birthday young mother!!!

  15. Hello,

    I am writing you from http://www.museodelapalabra.com, we organize a flash fiction competition every year with a 20.000 $ prize. Short tales can be submited in English and Arab language. I would like to send you the press release as well as the competition rules, It might be of interest for you and your blog. You can contact us at info@museodelapalabra.com

    Thank you1

  16. Dear readers of this website,

    Ramadan Kareem.

    God is not a Delusion — A book by a Muslim doctor presents arguemnts against atheism.

    This book is out in the market now. Please visit the following link for details.

    https://www.createspace.com/3772911

    Kind regards,
    Ali

  17. Dear M Lynx and readers of her blog,

    Please consider helping me spread the word about this call for submissions.

    “Love on the Road 2013″ will be an anthology of stories about making connections, from heartfelt ones ending in weddings, to less high-minded ones ending in beds (or wherever). Half the stories will be about travelers meeting people far from home, and the other half about people meeting travelers passing through.

    Writers can submit their 5,000-word stories (and $10 reading fees) to us any time before March 31, 2013. We will choose the best 12 stories for publication and send them to our panel of judges, which includes writers and literary agents. They will pick the stories that will win the cash prizes of $200, $100 and $50.

    There’s more information at loveontheroad2013.com.

    Best,
    Sam Tranum

  18. It is one of my favorite poems. It is called : “The People’s Will”. It was written in a strong and rhythmic Arabic language by Abul Quassem Al Shabbi.
    Since my early teen life I admired the poet and his work. It just happened that I accidentally read the Arabic version on the Internet. It was my fervent pleasure to translate it and share it with my English speaking friends. I am sure it does not meet the linguistic strength I was aspiring for ,however; I still believe that the translation can introduce the beauty of the Arabic challenging poems to my closest friends.

    إرادة الشعب – أبو قاسم الشابي
    The People’s Will
    Abul Qassim Al-Chabbi
    Tanslated by Ramzi Amin Haroun,MD,FAAP

    إذا الشعب يوما أراد الحياة = فلا بد أن يستجيب القدر
    ولا بد لليل أن ينجلي = ولا بد للقيد أن ينكسر
    If people are adamant for a dear life, their fate will surely react.
    As the tedious nights will not last, the tight cuffs will tear apart.

    ومن لم يعانقه شوق الحياة = تبخر في حرها واندثر
    فويل لمن لم تشقه الحياة = من صفعة العدم المنتصر
    He who is not embraced by the life’s yearning , will vanish in its ruthless heat
    Woe to those who don’t accept life’s struggle, they will be powered in a dead beat.

    كذلك قالت لي الكائنات = وحدثني روحها المستتر
    ودمدمت الريح بين الفجاج = وفوق الجبال وتحت الشجر
    Hence has the creatures informed me, and divulged its secret spirits.
    And winds roared in the abyss, above the mountains and within the trees.

    إذا ما طمحت إلى غاية = ركبت المنى ونسيت الحذر
    ولم أتجنب وعور الشعاب = ولا كبة اللهب المستعر
    If I desire to attain, I will mount the impossible and reject my fears.
    I don’t evade the unsteady paths, or avoid the rampant burns.

    ومن لا يحب صعود الجبال = يعش أبد الدهر بين الحفر
    فعجت بقلبي دماء الشباب = وضجت بصدري رياح أخر
    He, who fears to conquer the mountains, will forever loiter in the ditches.
    Youths’ blood loaded my heart, and in my chest other stormy hitches.

    وأطرقت، أصغي لقصف الرعود = وعزف الرياح ووقع المطر
    وقالت لي الأرض – لما سألت: = “؟ أيا أم هل تكرهين البشر”
    I pried in listening to the thunders’ shelling, to the melodious wind and the rainfall.
    Then, the earth replied when I asked:“Mother, do you despise us all?”

    “أبارك في الناس أهل الطموح = ومن يستلذ ركوب الخطر
    وألعن من لا يماشي الزمان = ويقنع بالعيش عيش الحجر
    “Among people I bless the ambitious, who enjoys traversing danger.
    I denounce the stone-like lazy; the denying his grave vital blunder.

    هو الكون حي، يحب الحياة = ويحتقر الميت مهما كبر
    فلا الأفق يحضن ميت الطيور = ولا النحل يلثم ميت الزهر
    Thus is the universe, alive and loves life; scorns even those with great power.
    Neither the horizon holds a dead bird, nor do the bees sip on a dead flower.

    ولولا أمومة قلبي الرؤوم = لما ضمت الميت تلك الحفر
    فويل لمن لم تشقه الحياة = من لعنة العدم المنتصر! ”
    If it was not my motherly soft heart, my ruts could have rejected the graves.”
    Misery to who do not struggle in life; he will be powered by the braves

    وفي ليلة من ليالي الخريف = مثقلة بالأسى والضجر
    سكرت بها من ضياء النجوم = وغنيت للحزن حتى سكر
    In one of the autumn nights, that was packed with despair and tediousness .
    I was inebriated by the gleaming stars, I chanted until I shattered the sadness.

    سألت الدجى: هل تعيد الحياة = لما أذبلته ربيع العمر؟
    فلم تتكلم شفاه الظلام = ولم تترنم عذارى السحر
    Late night: “Will ever Life revive its withery blooms?”, I uttered.
    Neither the lips of the dimness hymned, nor the nymphs of the dawn muttered.

    وقال لي الغاب في رقة = محببة مثل خفق الوتر
    يجيء الشتاء، شتاء الضباب = شتاء الثلوج، شتاء المطر
    Melodious tunes from the forest wordlessly said in a soft blow.
    “Winter will loom with fog, desolated with rain and heavy snow.

    فينطفئ السحر، سحر الغصون = وسحر الزهور وسحر الثمر
    وسحر المساء الشجي الوديع = وسحر المروج الشهي العطر
    The magic of twigs shall disappear, the splendor of flowers and fruits shall fade.
    The elegance of the quiet nights will diminish; the scented meadows will evade.

    وتهوي الغصون وأوراقها = وأزهار عهد حبيب نضر
    وتلهو بها الريح في كل واد = ويدفنها السيل أنى عبر
    The twigs and the leaves will plunge; the flowers of a loving era will depart in vain.
    Dispersed by the wind in every dale; then buried within the streams of the vale.
    ويفنى الجميع كحلم بديع = تألق في مهجة واندثر
    وتبقى البذور التي حملت = ذخيرة عمر جميل غبر
    All will die like a transient dream; at its utmost ecstasy departs.
    Survive only those cores, with eternal munitions in the seeds’ hearts.

    وذكرى فصول، ورؤيا حياة = وأشباح دنيا تلاشت زمر
    معانقة وهي تحت الضباب = وتحت الثلوج وتحت المدر
    Memories of seasons ,old life anticipation; other ghostly things disappear.
    Embraced within the fog; and under the snow from far and near.

    لطيف الحياة الذي لا يمل = وقلب الربيع الشذي الخضر
    وحالمة بأغاني الطيور = وعطر الزهور وطعم الثمر
    Comes the elating breath of life, to keep the young spring’s heart beat.
    Charmed with the birds tweet; and the flowers’ aroma and the fruits’ sweet

    وما هو إلا كخفق الجناح = حتى نما شوقها وانتصر
    فصدعت الأرض من فوقها = وأبصرت الكون عذب الصور
    As a gentle flapping wing that grew as a triumphant bird.
    I mounted the earth from above, and watched its beauty like a nerd.

    وجاء الربيع بأنغامه = وأحلامه وصباه العطر
    وقبلها قبلا في الشفاه = تعيد الشباب الذي قد غبر
    The spring rejoiced its charismatic rhythm; and its dream’s at early stage.
    Imprinted it kisses on the earth’s lips, freed its youth from its old cage.

    وقال لها: قد منحت الحياة = وخلدت في نسلك المدخر
    وباركك النور فاستقبلي = شباب الحياة وخصب العمر
    You are re-granted life , he whispered; your creation will be the eternal truth.
    The light blessed you; welcome the fruitful life and the new youth

    ومن تعبد النور أحلامه = يباركه النور أنى ظهر
    إليك الفضاء، إليك الضياء = إليك الثرى الحالم المزدهر
    He whose dreams worshiped by the light, will always be blessed day and night.
    To you is the startling and productive soil, the space and its endless Light.

    إليك الجمال الذي لا يبيد = إليك الوجود الرحيب النضر
    فميدي كما شئت فوق الحقول = بحلو الثمار وغض الزهر
    To you is the everlasting beauty; and to you its vast and eternal powers.
    Sway as you please over the meadow; loaded with fruits and charming flowers

    وناجي النسيم وناجي الغيوم = وناجي النجوم وناجي القمر
    وناجي الحياة وأشواقها = وفتنة هذا الوجود الأغر
    Whisper to the breeze and whisper the clouds. Hum to the moon and the stars.
    Utter the kindness and ease, with charm chat about your old scars.

    وشف الدجى عن جمال عميق = يشب الخيال ويذكي الفكر
    ومد على الكون سحر غريب = يصرفه ساحر مقتدر
    After darkness an exciting beauty surfaced; rapt the wits and inspired the mind.
    A mystical harmony overwhelmed the space, made by a magician of a kind.

    وضاءت شموع النجوم الوضاء = وضاع البخور، بخور الزهر
    ورفرف روح غريب الجمال = بأجنحة من ضياء القمر
    The stars’ brilliant candles shined, the incense left but flowers’ fragrance survived.
    An odd splendor of a spirit flapped, with moonbeams’ light wings arrived.

    ورن نشيد الحياة المقدس = في هيكل حالم قد سحر
    وأعلن في الكون أن الطموح = لهيب الحياة وروح الظفر
    إذا طمحت للحياة النفوس = لا بد أن يستجيب القدر
    Then rang the life’s sacred chant; within a captivating charming sight.
    Announcing to the whole creation, ambition fuels life at its utmost height.
    When souls aspire and desire, for a worthy and noble life.
    Their fate will react as a razor-sharp cutting knife

  19. I have just stumbled across your blog. And I totally loved it! Can I be part of the writing team? I am writing a novel nowadays about Egypt. It tackles so many things in the Egyptian culture that I would love to reach out to others. It would be a pleasure to be part of your team or have you follow my blog : ).
    Thanks a lot

    http://changingthewayofparenting.wordpress.com/

  20. I was thinking of advertising my novel on your blog if you find that good for both blogs. And I love writing about social matters. There is a piece I am still putting together and can email you once finished. My email is imane.translator@gmail.com

  21. I have done several translations of poems written(mostly) by Syrian writers, drawing on the tragedy unfolding in Syria.Would you be interested in publishing them?

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