Dr. Raghid Nahhas Launched His Two Translation Books at Gleebooks
By Marcelle Mansour OAM
It is with great pleasure that I was invited and attended the launch of two translation books by Dr. Raghid Nahhas, (Kalimat كلمات Publications) Sydney 2019. The two books of “No One Know My Name” and “The Cities”, on Friday Evening, August 30, 2019 at the Gleebooks Bookshop in Sydney.
The first book in English titled No One Knows My Name, is a new collection of Poetry by Australian Iraqi poet Khalid Al-Hilli in Arabic, that was translated by Dr. Raghid Nahhas. The second titled The Cities, is selected poems from the five poetry collections published by the Australian Lebanese poet, journalist, singer and oud player Ghassan Alameddine, and from an unpublished collection. Raghid also translated this selection into English and published it under the title ‘The Cities’. As a creative thinker, Raghid also designed the cover and the contents of the two books and included his own remarkable photography images.
Dr. Raghid Nahhas, an Australian Syrian translator, is also a writer, poet, and a photographer artist. Born to a Syrian father and a Lebanese mother, Nahhas graduated from The American University of Beirut with degrees in Biology and Marine Sciences and completed his PhD at Hull University, England. He worked intensively for many years in environmental sciences in Lebanon, Syria, England and Australia.
Nahhas has had an interest in literature and photography since childhood. He founded and edited an English-Arabic literary magazine, Kalimat (2000-2006). Nahhas is considered a professional bilingual translator, he has many translations in English and Arabic, including scientific books and literary collections of poetry and prose. In 2016, Raghid was nominated as one of Australia’s top 100 thinkers by Sophie Masson in a referendum conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
His most recent publication was his book titled ‘Fullmoon, Thoughts in the Time of Facebook’, that I attended its book launch event in 2018. The book contains a collection of Nahhas’ own poetry and photography.
The celebration of the book launch event was hosted by Raghid Nahhas and attended by high quality of community members and friends who appreciate such invaluable work.
Guest speakers who successfully contributed to the event, were all from various ethnic backgrounds including Some Aboriginal elders. No doubt, this signifies the true cultural diversity of Australia that embraces the cohesion of the Australian society. As Raghid stated in his own words: “The celebration was a true Australian.”
Raghid hosted the event and speakers were as follows:
*Deborah Ruiz Wall OAM, of Filipino origins and a leader in multiculturalism, social justice and reconciliation, gave a fluent launch speech.
*The talented vocalist Ghada Daher-Elmowi, of Lebanese origins, Director of the Andalus Arabic Choir, sang the famous Arabic song of Fairuz “Tellet Ya Mahla Nourha”, (طلعت يا محلا نورها) , a tribute to the late Lebanese-Australian Poet Ghassan Alameddine.
*A message from the Australian Iraqi Melbourne based poet Khalid Al-Hilli was delivered by Raghid.
*Dr. Louise Wakeling was supposed to attend the event and to shed a great insight on Raghid’s work, apologized for some reasons prevented her from attending the event.
*Dr. Nejmeh Khalil Habib, of Palestinian origins, spoke in length about the original work of *Australian-Iraqi poet Khalid al-Hilli.
*Aman Alsayed, of Syrian origins, read some poems from the original work of her late husband Ghassan Alameddine.
*Noel O’Sullivan, of Irish origins, recited some of the translations and took the photographs of the event.
The program of speeches was finalized by the host Raghid Nahhas who gave an interesting casual speech. He spoke about his experience in publishing and translation, telling the audience some stories about his struggle in trying to find a publisher. Unfortunately, his efforts were unsuccessful for he found no publisher or organisation was interested in his work, advising him that “his book is with no commercial value.” “… I found no publisher or organisation were interested in promoting such a book, … and that is the reality with many artists and creators who are facing such problems and are struggling to find supporters”. Raghid said.
After many years of failing, Raghid gave up trying and decided to publish his own books and put them in the main libraries to be accessible to the second generation. As a qualified translator, Raghid translated theoretical and scientific works. He has about twenty technical books and thirteen literature books including bilingual poetry and his artistic photographic images. “The main reason for translation is not about getting famous, rather “because I wanted to introduce the Arabic speaking people to the English-speaking people and vice versa.” Raghid said.
He also mentioned in his speech that he doesn’t like to spend time on translation, he ‘d rather to spend time on his own writing instead. He primarily did it because: “I believe in the value promoting gems that are hidden and they have no one there to promote them.” Raghid stated.
According to Raghid; He selected the works of those two poets because their work conveys the sense of humanity in a very decent level, they both express powerful ideas, each in his own way. He likes in Khalid Al-Hilli that he reconciles the idea and music in a very smooth manner. Ghassan Alameddine’s work on the other hand is closer more to prose and focuses on strong ideas.
The quality of the audience attended was high, they all supported the significant event in a diverse and very multicultural atmosphere. Refreshments and drink were served before the celebration began. All contributing guest speakers were great. Mrs. Nabiha Haddara voluntarily documented the event using her mobile phone and posted several videos on YouTube. Dr. Raghid Nahhas sincerely expressed his thankfulness and gratitude to the audience.
Raghid was honoured by the presence of the Aboriginal elder and received a precious surprise from Dr Deborah Ruiz Wall OAM, who presented him with a historical photograph she took during a rally for refugees in Sydney in 2001, and the gift was delivered to him by Deborah and Aunty Beryl Van Oploo.
Congratulations to Dr. Raghid Nahhas, to the authors of the two books, and to the Australian Arabic speaking community.