What is called homework in English, we called Aufgaben in my native lingo (with a bit of a Luxembourg inflection softening the German loanword). So coming home from school it was great to find issue#5 of Aufgabe, one of the stellar magazines of the US poetry scene, and one I’ll homework any day. Besides a fascinating, wide-ranging, very open section called “Re and Not Re ‘John Cage’,” the issue contains — opens, in fact, with — a 50-page section of current Moroccan poetry, most ably edited by Jalal El Hakmaoui and Guy Bennett, and with translations by Hassan Hilmy (from Arabic) and Guy Bennett (from French).

This selection gives a very good overview of the younger, just-emerged, generation of arabo-phone and franco-phone poets (though where are the berbero-phone, or amazigh writing poets?). Lamented by Jalal El Hakmaoui in his informative introductory survey of Moroccan poetry is the dirth of women — this selection includes only 4 women out of 19 poets — though he hopes that recent changes in family law and other legislative & social measures will bring about “a new generation of women poets [that] will soon make its voice heard.”

What surprised me a bit in the intro was the erasure of the elder statesman of francophone Moroccan poetry, Abdellatif Laâbi (see my blog entry for 25 february 2006), though Guy Bennett does mention him in his intro. Laâbi is not named while just about every other major figure is, while his magazine Souffles (the major avant-garde Moroccan poetry magazine of the sixties) is mentioned briefly only to be dismissed as turning too political and ideological. This could be understandable in that El Hakmaoui counts himself as part of a nineties generation of poets which he himself describes as “blasé, disillusioned and defiant. A lost generation that no longer believed in the successive corrupt governments, nor in the peddlers of ideology on the right or on the left, nor in the literature of their aging predecessors, nor even in the hoopla of pseudo-democracy.” A necessary move, possibly, probably. But ’nuff quibbled. It is wonderful to have this wide-ranging selection in what feels like excellent translations (ah, to have bi-lingual versions would have been paradise…) and informative, well-contextualized presentation. Here is the T.o.C.:

Feature guest edited by Jalal El Hakmaoui and Guy Bennett, with translations by Hassan Hilmy and Guy Bennett

“US-Moroccan Relations (Poetic or Otherwise)” by Guy Bennett
“Contemporary Moroccan Poetry: An Historical Overview” by Jalal El Hakmaoui

Mahmoud Abdelghani, Three Poems
Mehdi Akhrif, from The Tomb of Helen
Ahmed Barakat, Six Poems
Ahmed Belbdaoui, Two Poems
Rajae Benchemsi, from The Dead Never Die
Mohammed Bentalha, Three Poems
Omar Berrada, The Archangel’s Old Slippers
Jalal El Hakmaoui, Two Poems
Mohamed Hmoudane, from Incandescence
Wafaa Lamrani, The Eighth Day
Mohamed Loakira, from Even Burning My Lashes
Rachida Madani, Untitled
Zohra Mansouri, Two Poems
Mohamed Meimouni, A Wisp of Smoke
Hassan Najmi, Cold Sun
Mostafa Nissabouri, from Daybreak
Abdel-Illah Salhi, Two Poems
Abdelkarim Tabbal, Three Poems
Mubarak Wassat, Two Poems

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3 Responses

  1. razmarie says:

    I’m a bit lost. What do the terms “Arabo-phone” and “Franco-phone” mean? While I read a lot of poetry, and write it myself, I haven’t actually studied it much. Can you help?

  2. Pierre says:

    North Africans are traditionally Arab speakers (or Berber speakers, though Arabic has become over the centuries the “official” language). During colonization, the French imposed their language on those countries, so that at the end of the colonial period, 1962 for Algeria, a bit earlier for Morocco and Tunisia, people were caught between those languaes and there were several generations who were more at home in French & decided to write poetry or novels in that language (thus: franco-phone maghrebian literature) while others, and now, 40 plus year after colobnization, most Maghrebian writers write in Arabic (thus arabo-phone Maghrebian literature).

  3. fmassen says:

    Dear Pierre,
    please don’t fall full speed into environmental hysteria: please read this paper of the great Richard Lindzen, MIT atmospheric physics professor par excellence: http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/Lindzen/understanding_common_climate_claims.pdf (takes some time to load); also appreciate the latest Russian scientist who thinks global warming being caused by the big Tunguska meteor event in 1908 (maybe this is a joke…). Also this easy to read paper by Lord Nigel Lawson on the European Kyoto missionary craze: http://meteo.lcd.lu/globalwarming/Lawson/deep_thought.html.
    Sorry for not making the link active, the htlm tags do not seem to work!

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