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Twice the Sign of the Beast

Youssef Rakha
Youssef Rakha
Witches, sorcerers, augurs of the apocalypse:You have not heard from your favourite archfiend since before the earth’s last orbit around the hellish heart of the spheres. For this I apologize. Wink. Let the good people who are glad of my absence know they will be glad no longer.Mephistophelian maniacs:It will no doubt pain you to know that, notwithstanding the Khamsin and the, ahem, election, the year has proven awfully auspicious, bearing demonic delights in four tongues.In Arabic: a Sawiris Prize for Paulo (well, half of one); a new edition of The Seal, The original Seal; and an MS of selected poems spanning, my Lord, 22 years (1996-2018). In English: proper progress working on what I’m working on; and thanks to my incredible friend Nezar Andary, a pseudo-scholarly essay on Shadi Abdel-Salam’s The Night of Counting the Years – discrete numbered paragraphs about history, culture, society, identity and any number of horrors besides art house cinema – which makes me think of my Crocodiles and Agustín Fernández Mallo.In German – you guessed – a commission from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Quarterly to write Arab Porn Part II. Consume responsibly.And in Spanish, the main point: having got to reread my bible, whose title refers to a future date but seems to double the Number of the Beast, I was elated when (within days of putting it down) my Twitter follower count reached exactly 2,666. I am still wickedly wiggling at the thought. All hail Bolaño!Fabled Fausts:I happily got to leave my malicious mark on Dubai. This poem, translated and read by Robin Moger, appears bilingually in the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature's commemorative tenth-anniversary book.In Dubai I met Sjon and spoke with Ibrahim Nasralla, though it was Ibrahim Farghali who damaged his own future when he commented on my weight. We had met at the stately house of Sennari, behind the Sayeda Zeinab Mosque, for a Banipal magazine evening celebrating the memory of Alaa El Deeb. As to what he did to himself by making that rash remark, Farghali hasn’t realized yet.Beloved evil spirits:Let me leave you with some ѕυℓтαη’ѕ ѕєαℓ's highlights that will prove of invaluable benefit on your interminable path to damnation: a Macbeth-inspired short story by Maan Abu Taleb, fiendishly fabulous new poems by Mohab Nasr and a zombie-meets-jihadi story by Tam Hussein.Yasmine Seale’s translation of a Nizar Qabbani poem and Joseph Schreiber's gritty black and white vision of Calcutta seem innocent and good, but I trust your black hearts to transform even them. There are also extracts from just-published books by Mansoura Ez Eldin and Hisham Bustani.Now go practise your spells.Infernally yours,Youssef Rakha
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Youssef Rakha
Youssef Rakha @Sultans_Seal

In 1963, when he came to Alexandria, David Hockney used Cecil Hotel stationary to make a beautiful sketch…

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