Saturday Summer Re-runs: On Translating ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, Perhaps Arabic’s Most Prolific Premodern Woman Writer

Arabic Literature (in English)

Th. Emil Homerin, editor-translator of the recently-published The Principles of Sufism, has long been interested in the work of ‘A’ishah al-Ba’uniyyah, who is perhaps the most prolific and prominent woman who wrote in Arabic prior to the modern period. Homerin, a professor of religion and former chair of the Department of Religion & Classics at the University of Rochester, previously translated a collection of al-Ba’uniyyah’s poems as Emanations of Grace, and likens her work to that of the famous Persian poet, Jalal al-Din Rumi.

Emil-Homerin-PhotoS Th. Emil Homerin

In a Skype interview originally published on the Library of Arabic Literature, Homerin talked about how he found al-Ba’uniyyah’s manuscripts—which was like finding “a needle in a haystack”—and what changes when you can read Sufi poetry alongside the author’s own spiritual guidebook.

Originally published in 2014, this interview is a re-run for Women in Translation Month (#WITMonth).

ArabLit: Before translating 

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