staircase      –      جبل اللويبدة                                 jabal alweibdeh

                                  the tourists are taking over
the square & i’ve seen it

                          past the frenchified streetlamps
& wallace fountains 

                         i’ve seen it by mama’s childhood
home near duwar al hawooz 

                                  i’ve seen it the window sign
          reading ‘شقة للإيجار for expats only’ 

                      i’ve lived my life so far   an archive
of this city    my face my mother’s 

                             mirrored outside its sandstone
walls bas this city holds its people

                                     differently as it always has
it stages its streets like an exercise 

                                        in circumstance its gaze
                 towards whatever else 

                                                       is west of itself

by Zein Sa’dedin
Listen to Zein Sa’dedin read ‘staircase’

This week we’re delighted to feature the second of three poems by new ignitionpress poets Katie Byford, Zein Sa’dedin and Fathima Zahra, all of whom have pamphlets forthcoming  from our press. We’re very excited to be launching them (online) on Wednesday 25 August at 7pm BST and hope that you will join us! You can sign up for the Zoom webinar via this link .

‘staircase –جبل اللويبدة (jabal alweibdeh)’ is copyright © Zein Sa’dedin, 2021, and is reprinted here from Staircase (ignitionpress, 2021).

Staircase is an extraordinary debut, exploring landscape, locality and the constructions of a self that inhabits and manoeuvres through many layered textures – mediated by the cultural influences of music and other artistic forms. Those familiar with the neighbourhoods on the seven hills of Amman will recognize the places named, yet all readers will be entranced by them. The Arabic script interwoven through the poems allows the printed word to reflect the literary contours and evocative images contained within this intensely crafted work.

Zein Sa’dedin is a poet, editor, and educator from and currently based in Amman, Jordan. She is the founding editor-in-chief of BAHR // بحر – an online literary and creative platform dedicated to championing writers and artists from Southwest Asia and North Africa in all their languages. Zein holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews and a BA in English Literature with Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. She currently teaches English language as well as the occasional writing workshop. Zein is also working to establish a bilingual literary journal from, within, and for SWANA and the Levant. Her poem, ‘the sea is the most flexible of things,’ was the recipient of the 2019 Third Coast Poetry Prize. Zein’s work has appeared in harana poetry, The Shuruq Festival, Zarf PoetryThird Coast MagazineCordite Poetry ReviewMuzzle MagazineWinter TangerineSukoon MagazineJaffat el Aqlam, and others.

You can follow Zein on Twitter and Instagram.

Established by Oxford Brookes Poetry Centre in 2017, ignitionpress is a poetry pamphlet press with an international outlook which publishes original, arresting poetry from emerging poets. In the future, we plan to work with established poets who are developing interim or special projects. Pamphlets published by the press have so far received three Poetry Book Society Pamphlet Choice selections (for A Hurry of EnglishHinge, and Ripe) and Hinge by Alycia Pirmohamed was also shortlisted for the Michael Marks Poetry Award, 2020. Read more about the press on our website.

Copyright information: please note that the copyrights of all the poems displayed on the website and sent out on the mailing list are held by the respective authors, translators or estates, and no work should be reproduced without first gaining permission from the individual publishers.