Yasmine Seale & Robin Moger
Born in Murcia in 1165, Ibn Arabi was a prolific Muslim philosopher and poet. He travelled extensively before settling in Damascus, where he died in 1240. Tarjuman al-Ashwaq, or The Interpreter of Desires, is a cycle of sixty-one Arabic poems. They speak of loss and bewilderment, a spiritual and sensual yearning for the divine, and a hunger for communion in which near and far collapse.
Agitated Air is a correspondence in poems between Istanbul and Cape Town, following the wake of The Interpreter of Desires. Collaborating at a distance, Yasmine Seale and Robin Moger work in close counterpoint, making separate translations of each poem, exchanging them, then writing new poems in response to what they receive. The process continues until they are exhausted, and then a new chain begins.
Translated and retranslated, these poems fray and eddy and, their themes of intimacy across distance made various, sing back and forth, circling and never landing. Absence and approach, knowing and unknowing, failure and repetition: Ibn Arabi’s cycle of ecstatic love shimmers with turbulence. Seale and Moger move into and against these contending drifts, finding in the play of dissatisfaction and endurance a prompt for new poetry.
Alongside the writer and translator Kate Briggs, Yasmine Seale appeared at Perdu on Thursday 16th February.