Ibtihal Mahmood is a Jordanian translator, journalist and poet. Her work has appeared in many international anthologies including the Premio Mondiale Poesia Nosside. Mahmood is one of the contributors at The Seattle Globalist and the chairperson of the Arabic Division of the International Medical Interpreters Association (IMIA). She is also a member of the American Translators Association (ATA) and the American Literary Translators Association (ALTA).
When did you first start writing?
I started writing when I was eight years old. I remember the first poem I wrote. It was a love poem and it got me into so much trouble with my dad! It was my first exposure to censorship and I learned early on that writing is a risky business, so I began to write down my thoughts and shredded them right away. I even invented my own symbols at one point.
Then as an English major, I began to write more freely and confidently, surrounded by encouragement from colleagues and professors. Of course, pure necessity for writing and self-expression has always been my main drive, but it was very important to break the barrier of fear – and I am glad I did.
What's the story behind your latest book "Snow in Amman?"
With my two passions in life being literature and languages, translating "Snow in Amman: An Anthology of Short Stories From Jordan" (edited by Alexander Haddad) was inevitable. It was hard for me to see how there was hardly any translated modern literature from Jordan available to readers in the English-speaking world. I have seen anthologies of translated modern literature from many other Arab countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Egypt, but almost none from Jordan, so I got in contact with several Jordanian writers who were kind and collaborative in creating this collection. I hope this little initiative will be followed by many other projects that would shed more light on more great works from Jordan.
Filled with deeply nuanced storytelling and vividly drawn, often heartbreaking human characters, "Snow in Amman: An Anthology of Short Stories From Jordan" is a rich selection of contemporary Jordanian fiction which stands in stark contrast to many of the prevailing stereotypes of Arabic culture.