Fevzi Kerim
A poet, writer and painter. He was born in Baghdad.  He was educated at Baghdad University before embarking on a career as a freelance writer. He lived in Lebanon from 1969-1972 and has lived in London since 1978. The Ivory Tower, his column on poetry and European classical music has appeared in a number of influential Arabic newspapers and is respected for its emphasis on the transcendent value of art and culture. He has published more than twenty three books of poetry, His poetry has been translated into many languages, including French, Sweden, Italian and English.

Why is it only me who writes letters every month?
I try to respond to your silence,
Pretending that your silence is more eloquent
Than my words.
Every month I add to your name
All that I love of your traits:
Dear lady of longing, dear jasmine, and dear flowers that encircle gardens
Until my windowpane gathers dew from a mouth’s vapour.
Sighs of the lady of longing?
But it was night, breaths of cold night wind.

And so I finish my letter.

And after thirty days I try to respond to your silence again,
Pretending that your silence is more eloquent
Than my words.

On one side, my always departing letters;
On the other side, your silence,
And between them
The earth and the sun keep rotating.
Whole histories are chronicled in the names of these two,
The one in writing and the other in silence,
While empires rise and fall.


Fawzi Karim

Translation from Arabic into English by the Author and Anthony Howell