Born in Mit ‘Adlan, Egypt, in 1966, writer, poet and professor Iman Mersal is one of Egypt’s most noted feminist writers. Mersal received both her MA and PhD from Cairo University, writing the dissertation for the latter on ‘Orienting Occidentalism: Images of America in Arab Travel Literature’. Previously, she had graduated from Mansoura University with a bachelor’s degree in Arabic.
She is a co-founder independent feminist magazine Bint al-Ard (Daughter of the Earth) of which she served as co-editor from 1985 to 1988.
In the late 90s, she emigrated to Boston, USA, and finally settled in Alberta, Canada where she serves as Associate Professor of Arabic literature and Middle Eastern and African Studies at the University of Alberta.
Mersal has published several poetry books and has had her poems translated into numerous languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, Macedonian, Hindi, and Italian.
Her second book, Mamarr Mu*Šñtim Yasluh li Ta*Šñallum al-Raqs (A Dark Passageway is Suitable for Learning to Dance), was selected as the best book of poetry in 1995 by polls conducted by a number of Egyptian magazines and newspapers.
I face the mirror to scrub off
the scent that two lips left on my neck.
And though there is no need to document the sadness,
I still indulge in counting tears
by examining the paper tissues I threw in the wastebasket.
I think my eyes are prettier than the image I have of them
and decide that understanding is more beautiful than forgiveness.
I was with you
on a journey to a holy place.
I am wearing a dress of a sixteenth-century French princess
when you take me away from the convent.
You push me to climb a staircase hanging in air.
And since this is impossible with all those spangles,
I begin taking off petticoats
belts shaped like bows
that turn into dead butterflies when I release them,
On the highest step
I am naked under a light mist.
< em> I lose you
and wake in another bed.
To believe that there is always something greater
I examine my skin
on which no imprint of the past remains—
I see I am getting thinner
as if preparing myself
- Taken from her poem Oranges.
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