23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023

Girgis Shoukry

Girgis Shoukry was born to a Coptic family in Sohaq, Egypt, in 1967. After studying  commerce he graduated as a critic from the National Arts Academy. The poet makes his living as an art and drama critic for a radio and television magazine and is also co-editor of the newspaper »Aswat adabiyya«.

Shoukry has published four collections of  poetry to date, including »Darurat al-kalb fi-I-masrahiyya« (2000, tr: On the Need for Dogs in the Play) and his latest collection, »Wa-I-aydi ‘ulta rasmiyya« (2004, tr: And the Hands on Holiday), the result of a collaboration by  the poets José F.A. Oliver and Raphael Urweider, »poetic smuggling«. which was  translated into German by Leila Chammaa and published in 2008. A selection from the first three books was translated into German and published as an anthology (2004, tr: What Remains of us Interests Nobody). Girgis Shoukry has taken part in many poetry festivals and artists’ exchange projects and is well-known as a poet outside Egypt.  Shoukry said of his writing:»My poems should look like people on the street..I want to deconstruct the ›big questions‹ of philosophy and see them at work in the daily lives of the people I write about«. In a clear and simple tone which makes use of a rhythm that is highly poetic he deals with  everyday objects as if they were beings with souls, for example in a »Coat«: »My coat and I take walks in the winter / […] When the world is about to choke, I carry her over my arm / sometimes she springs onto my shoulder / like a cat. / Possessed by desire / she bites my pocket / I smile, reassured« (in: On the Need for Dogs in the Play).

This results in powerful imagery which allows people’s innermost  feelings, questions and hopes to become visible, as in the poem »Complicity«: ›I lie / and the chair on which I sit / forgives me // You lie / but the chair on which you sit / forgives you // The table watches / benevolently inactive‹ (in: And the Hands on Holiday).

Shoukry would like to rescue poetry from its ivory tower and present his readers new perspectives on the world around them. Like many other Egyptian poets of his generation, Shoukry is, as a poet, less interested in the big picture than in the individual. His poetry, occasionally melancholy, occasionally laconic, trains the eye to spot the cracks in normality and often finds the solitude at the heart of peoples’ lives. Girgis Shoukry lives and works in Cairo.

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