Dr. Sarah Hawass, Lecturer of Linguistics at the Faculty of Arts at Mansoura University, has a zest for poetry and translation. She took her passion and love for female poets into writing “The Key Hole Sees Nothing” a book that combines over 20 female poets from different backgrounds and ages and poets who won the prestigious the Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, translating and conveying the depth of these poets' struggles, identities, and themes.
In the 55th edition of the Cairo International Book Fair, Hawass debuted her book and held a discussion detailing her work, why she chose these female poets, and why it’s important to make sure that female voices are heard.
In one of her interviews, Hawass said that most rewarded poets are male, whether awarded the Nobel prize or Pulitzer. In her quest for inclusivity and visibility, Hawass focused on American work, rather than British because according to her “ There’s little coverage or studying of American work of literature and poem in academia.”
The Cairo International Book Fair is a place for people to know more about authors, get into reading, and also for aspiring writers to have the opportunity to get their work published and discussed with the public, and Hawass took that opportunity to do so.
In its 55th edition, Hawass had a seminar discussing her book with great poet and writer, Professor Ahmed Al-Shahawi, Professor Dr. Mohsen Al-Shimi, Professor of Linguistics at the Canadian University in Cairo, and the great poet and novelist, Professor Ali Atta.
In her book, Hawass chose poets that influenced her deeply, as she kept consuming poetry, she translated the poems that made her feel seen, were relatable to her, female-centric, and diverse.
Diversity is a key component of Hawass’s picks for poems, she included poems from poets that came from different backgrounds. Examples include African-American, Caucasian, German, and Russian culture, and in her own words, these poems discuss many ideas and struggles women face, oppression, abuse, and many more.
The book includes many celebrated poets like Slyvia Plath, Louise Glück, Sharon Olds, Anne Sexton, Anne Lowell, Amy Lowell, and Rita Dove.
Speaking of Rita Dove, the book’s title was inspired by a passage from Dove's poem "Heart to Heart." This particular title held personal significance for Hawass, leading her to select it as the title for her book.
Hawass translated these words into Arabic without losing the core message, essence, or value, and sparked an interest in understanding poetry through a female lens, an important step toward having more female-centric art, and hopefully, inspire many women to write just as these poets inspired Hawass as well.