Fascism and dictatorship appear to be back in our present – and so is political displacement, the condition called exile. A conversation with poet Ghayath Almadhoun and novelist Sana Valiulina in Spui25, Amsterdam.
Palestinian poet Ghayath Almadhoun, NIAS writer-in-residence this semester, and Sana Valiulina, novelist who writes both in Dutch and in Russian. A cross-border conversation about the plight of the writer in exile, about estrangement, the continuous need for translation; but also about the uses of adversity, and the crucial role of the literary voice when looking for ways of resistance.
Ghayath Almadhoun is a Palestinian poet born in Damascus in 1979. He has lived in Stockholm since 2008. Almadhoun has published four collections of poetry, the latest being Adrenaline. Together with the Swedish poet Marie Silkeberg he wrote a poetry book and made several poetry films. His work has been translated into many languages. In Dutch, Uitgeverij Jurgen Maas has two translations of Almadhoun, Weg van Damascus and ik hier jij daar which was written together with the Dutch poet Anne Vegter. Lately, Adrenalin, was translated into English by Catherine Cobham and Ein Raubtier namens Mittelmeer was translated into German.
From January until July 2019, Almadhoun is staying at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS) in Amsterdam as writer-in-residence. During his stay he will be working on his fifth book of poetry in Arabic, an extensive text of life, love in the wartime, memories that became home, and the exile as background of the new wave of literature.
Sana Valiulina is a novelist and an essayist. Born in Tallinn, in Soviet Estonia, she studied Norwegian at Moscow State University before moving to Amsterdam in 1989. She received the Jan Hanlo Essay Price in 2017. Her latest novel, Not Afraid of Bluebeard (the Dutch title Children of Brezjnev), was published in Russia in 2017. She writes in Dutch and Russian.