URGENT: NEWS OF THE DEATH OF HIBA ABU NADA by João Melo, trans. G. Holleran

/ / Featured Poetry, Poetry, Translation

Excuse my urgency, oh right-thinking beings
especially you translucent
and self-referential poets,
but one of our sisters,
the Palestinian poet Hiba Abu Nada,
has just died in Gaza under the shrapnel of a benevolent bomb,
sent by another God,
different from the one she spoke with
every day.

I hesitated to convey this fateful news
so hastily. Perhaps I should wait
for the leaden grey smoke from the bomb that killed her to dissipate,
while she, surely,
scrutinized the sky for a sliver of light and
maybe even
the last birds.
Or, more convenient yet
it’d be better to say nothing,
until today’s hegemonic oracles,
like all oracles,
circulate an official statement
denying it as usual
without any doubts
or uncomfortable questions.

But when I read
the last words of Hiba Abu Nada before she died,
I was moved to spread this news,
before her banner could be censored
by those who defend selective liberty:
“If we die, know that we are content and steadfast,
and convey on our behalf that we are people of truth!”

Grace Holleran translates literature from Portuguese to English. A PhD candidate in Luso-Afro-Brazilian Studies & Theory at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Grace holds a Distinguished Doctoral Fellowship with the Center for Portuguese Studies & Culture and Tagus Press. Grace’s research, which has been supported by a FLAD Portuguese Archives Grant, deals with translation and activism in the early Portuguese lesbian press. An editor of Barricade: A Journal of Antifascism & Translation, Grace’s translations of Brazilian, Portuguese, and Angolan authors have been published in Brittle Paper, Gávea-Brown, The Shoutflower, and others.