Constructing a manuscript is invariably a journey of wonder – one which begins long before the writing of the first letter of the first word – and doesn’t end with dotting the final period on the last sentence.
From script to print is equally a full of surprises.
So, there I was — pounding the pavement with my sandals, knocking on doors of publishers, with a query letter and proposal for the manuscript of The Book of Absence. Editor Greg Brandenburgh declined the invitation and asked, in the same breath, if we might be interested in translating Hafèz. His publishing house, Hampton Roads, had recently brought forth an excellent edition of Rumi, translated by Maryam Mafi and Azima Melita Kolin.
As Omid Safi once put it, if Rumi is a tumultuous ocean of love, Hafiz is an illuminated and many-faceted diamond.
I relayed the invitation to Erfan Mojib. We put our heads together. We were aware of The Untranslatability of Hafèz. And yet, as poet Robert Kelly once put it, every language is a second language.
Stay tuned for further word of Hafiz’s Little Book of Life.