Fri 7 July | A Friend’s Kitchen: with Al Saddiq al-Raddi, Bryar Bajalan and David Shook

Fri 7 July | A Friend’s Kitchen: with Al Saddiq al-Raddi, Bryar Bajalan and David Shook


Join us to hear from Al-Raddi at the opening event of Africa Writes - Exeter. One of the leading African poets writing in Arabic today, Al-Raddi will read from his newest poetry collection A Friend’s Kitchen alongside translators Bryar Bajalan and Shook. Following the reading an in-conversation will talk place; on collaboration, writing processes, exile and displacement. The evening will take place in McCoys Arcade, with Bookbag bookbag open for book browsing, and refreshments available from Sacred Grounds. 


Known in his native Sudan for the lyric intensity of his poetry and his opposition to Sudan’s dictatorship, Al-Raddi has lived in exile in London since 2012.

The poems in A Friend's Kitchen emerged in the aftermath of Al-Raddi’s arrival in the UK, separated from his wife and children. During late, uncertain nights, awake in a strange city, he would write stream-of-consciousness texts on Facebook, his primary means of communication with his loved ones in Khartoum. These texts grew over time into A Friend’s Kitchen, a profound collection that deals with both the spiritual incomprehensibility and physical reality of exile. It is rendered into English by the translator Bryar Bajalan working with Al-Raddi’s friend and fellow poet Shook.

Bryar Bajalan is a writer, translator, and filmmaker currently pursuing a PhD in depictions of eroticism in the poetry of Mosul. His work has appeared in Ambit, Hyperallergic, Modern Poetry in Translation, Spoon River Poetry Review, and World Literature Today, and on the Poetry Foundation website. Projects include the translation of poets displaced from Shingal during the Islamic State’s genocide of the Êzîdî people, and the collection of oral histories in Mosul. His short documentary about early twentieth-century Baghdadi poet al-Zahawi won an award for outstanding achievement at the Tagore International Film Festival. He recently completed a short film based on Sudanese poet al-Saddiq al-Raddi’s poem ‘The Book of Sorrows’.

Shook is a poet, translator, and editor whose work has spanned a wide range of languages and places. Winner of the 2021 Words Without Borders-Academy of American Poets Poems in Translation Contest for their work with poet Conceição Lima of São Tomé and Príncipe, their most recent translations include the Mexican experimentalist Mario Bellatin’s Beauty Salon and Kurdish iconoclast Farhad Pirbal’s Refugee Number 33,333, co-translated with Pshtiwan Kamal Babakir. Shook’s own poetry has been translated into more than a dozen languages, including Isthmus Zapotec, Kurdish, and Uyghur.

Friday 7th July

At Bookbag & Sacred Grounds, McCoys Arcade, EX4 3AN

Book Pay What You Can Afford tickets here


Africa Writes Festival - Exeter 2023

Africa Writes is the UK’s leading platform celebrating the best contemporary African writing and is part of Exeter’s Unesco City of Literature programme. The events this year will include performances, book launches and workshops and are hosted in collaboration with independent bookshop Bookbag and creative hub Roots Resistance.

This event is brought to you in collaboration with The Poetry Translation Centre.

The Poetry Translation Centre was founded in 2004 and aims to enhance English poetry by translating the rich poetic traditions of the UK’s immigrant communities from Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.



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