Translator's notes

Tablets III

By Dunya Mikhail

I’m fascinated by Sumerian clay tablets and by the symbols and images inscribed on them; not only because they were the first recorded communication in history but also because they were poetic by default: they were the metaphors of things and not the things themselves. But they gradually lost their poetic features as they developed into modern languages. The tablets are our Iraqi Haiku, if you will.

In my book The Iraqi Nights I tried to imitate those ancient tablets by making drawings in their style to accompany my modern short sections of poetry. It helped a lot that I was a terrible artist because the images are supposed to be primitive. I continued writing tablets. Now I have 99 of them and I am going to stop because I am scared of the number 100 for some reason.

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