Melanie Magidow

Melanie Magidow

Photo by Monika Kratochvil


Melanie Magidow

Melanie Magidow is the founder of Marhaba Language Expertise, providing Arabic-to-English translation (specializing in academic and literary), English editing, and related consulting in Arabic language, literature, and culture. She holds a PhD in Middle Eastern languages and cultures from the University of Texas at Austin. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Fulbright Commission. She lives in Rhode Island, and has taught Arabic at CUNY and Hunter College in New York, the University of Texas at Austin, Middlebury College, the University of Maryland, and the University of Rhode Island. She is also a co-host of the Goodreads MENA Lit Book Group.

Project Description

To support the translation from the Arabic of malhun poetry by 'Abd al'Azīz al-Maghrāwī, al-Jīlālī Mtīrd, Muhuammad bin 'Alī Wild Arzīn, 'Abd al-Qādir al-'Alamī, Thāmī al-Mdaghrī, and al-Makkī bi-l-Gurshī. This project will translate into English the works of six Moroccan malhun poets that range from the 15th to the early 20th centuries. Malhun is a genre of sung poetry, produced for consumption both in live performance and in written form. This project will be a collaboration with translator Mbarek Sryfi.

As a professional translator, I specialize in communications across linguistic and cultural borders. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and by the time I graduated from high school, I knew that I wanted to study Arabic in order to fill yawning gaps in my knowledge. I was fascinated by the long, documented history of cultures interacting in the Mediterranean region, but I was confused by the inequities that I was already perceiving between North and South, between Europe and Africa, between the West and the East. After many years of traveling, studying, researching, and teaching, I found myself located in Rhode Island due to my husband’s work. I set to finding a way to support my family and continue following my intellectual passions, combining translation activities with editing, teaching, and consulting. In my literary translations, I aim first to entertain and inform the many readers of English who seek access to Arabic literature. By bridging the gap between linguistic communities, I contribute to efforts addressing the inequities that I perceived as a teenager.

In 2016-2018, the National Endowment of the Arts supported my translation of the Epic of Princess Dhat al-Himma (Sirat al-amira Dhat al-Himma), now published by Penguin Classics as The Tale of Princess Fatima, Warrior Woman. Now the NEA has graciously offered to support my joint translation (with Mbarek Sryfi) of Moroccan Malhun poetry. This genre of poetry has never before been published in a book-length form in English. We are excited to undertake this exciting project!