Katharine Halls is a freelance Arabic-to-English translator who specialises in theatre and film. She holds a BA in Arabic and Hebrew from the University of Oxford, an MA in translation from the University of Manchester and an MA in Middle East studies from the American University in Cairo. Her translation, with Adam Talib, of Raja Alem’s novel The Dove’s Necklace received the 2017 Sheikh Hamad Award for Translation and International Understanding and was shortlisted for the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize. She is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Manchester, where she is researching the history of Jewish communities in modern Egypt.
I’m the straw the drowning clutch at — I confess, I’m guilty, I drowned your children. For years I was ready to come to their aid But no-one ever fell in. I fought the fierce current, I refused hands extended, I put down roots in what you called the swamp. They thought me a tree-trunk, a dry branch entreating your waning fires And when they swam over to fish me out I watched their foolish progress with a crocodile’s eyes.
Mustafa Abu Sneineh, tr. Katharine Halls
From A Blade of Grass: New Palestinian Poetry (Smokestack Books, 2017)