Biography of Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi is one of the leading African poets writing in Arabic today. He has gained a wide audience in his native Sudan for his imaginative approach to poetry and for the delicacy and emotional frankness of his lyrics. His poetry has always been concerned with the rich cultural and linguistic diversity of Sudan and its complex history.
Saddiq was born in 1969 and grew up in Omdurman Khartoum where he lived until forced into exile in 2012. From 2006, he was the cultural editor of Al-Sudani newspaper until he was sacked from his position for political reasons (along with 22 other colleagues) in July 2012 during the uprising against the dictatorship of Omar Al-Bashir. Saddiq only escaped imprisonment because, thanks to the miraculous timing of Poetry Parnassus (the world's largest ever gathering of international poets at which Saddiq represented Sudan), he was in the UK when a series of mass arrests took place. He successfully applied for asylum and is now living in London.
Saddiq's first poetry collection Songs of Solitude was published in 1996 (second edition, 1999). He has also published The Sultan's Labyrinth (1996) and The Far Reaches of the Screen... (1999 & 2000); all three collections were published in one volume as Saddiq's collected poems in Cairo in 2009.
One of the six poets taking part in the PTC's first World Poets' Tour in October 2005, Saddiq received a rapturous response from audiences in the UK. In March 2006 he returned to the UK and gave a moving reading at the Poetry Cafe as part of their occasional series 'In Town Tonight' featuring important international poets visiting London. In the autumn of 2006, he was invited to take part in the LitUp festival in Kendal, and he also gave readings in Brighton and at SOAS in London. In 2008 he took part in the second World Poets' Tour.
'Poem of the Nile' was published in The London Review of Books one of the rare occasions the LRB has published poetry translated from Arabic and the first time they featured the work of an African poet. His poems have also been published in Poetry Review and The Times Literary Supplement. This is a real indication of Saddiq's growing status as an important international poet.
Saddiq's involvement with the PTC stimulated his interest in translation. Back in Sudan, he began an innovative project that involved writers in Arabic from northern Sudan collaborating with writers in English from the south to translate each others' work, a project with enormous political significance in divided Sudan and which he later had to abandon because of the serious risks involved. In 2007, he set up the website Sudanese Ink, a showcase for writers from Sudan and beyond.
In 2010 he was invited to take part in the prestigious Poetry International Festival in Rotterdam. He then travelled to the UK for a series of readings alongside Corsino Fortes from Cape Verde. Whilst in London, a party was organised for him at The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology which holds a significant collection of ancient Sudanese artefacts. As a result of the success of this event (and earlier visits to the Petrie in 2005 and 2006), the Petrie Museum made a successful application to ACE for Saddiq to spend time working in the Museum as their poet in residence during the summer of 2012.
Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi Poems
The body of a bird in your mouth breathing songs.
Are You The One?
I only notice a woman who gets no notice
Awoken by light, I scratch the glass of dreams, and find myself
Orchards surround his homes; there, translucent moonlight falls
A Monkey At The Window
The little boy, playing in bed while his wounded mother cooks,
1 All these wars make the world unhomely make homes rust apart
A lazy noon stirs me from your memory to this glass of tea and a wondering embrace
Let the wind blow from a fisherman's mouth, from the span of a sail to the shell of a boat, unlocking the mouth of the river -
In the water in silence at your side in a fire that draws us close
In The Company Of Michelangelo
1 The kings who have gone left us the relics of their forgettable names - like Aleece or Kush
Suddenly - a small fox, playful, floods your wounded heart with joy He searches your face with his singular gaze, knows you're at one with his vagabond stance
Facing down wind in a dust-storm, wrapped up in his cloak
Poetry - may you be a green body. May you be a language
Your heart thumps as if she were already
What tempts a barman in the small hours?
Nursing a drink that bores him,
he rinses the dishes, glancing
at the customers snoring in their seats -
slumped in the pall of yesterday's news,
petty fights and crude jokes
Fixing his mind on the coming day,
scratching an armpit, he pisses and wheezes