Norbert Hirschhorn on Diwan Ifrikiya

On this morning’s London EYEWEAR blog — first paras below:

Norbert Hirschhorn reviews
Poems for the Millennium [Volume 4] The University of California Book of North
African Literature, edited by Pierre Joris andHabib Tengour, 2012
This is the fourth volume in the series, Poems for the Millennium, begun by Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris under the imprint of the University of California. The first published in 1995 is titled Book of Modern & Postmodern Poetry from Fin-de-Siécle to Negritude; the second (1998), subtitled From Postwar to Millennium; the third (with Jeffrey C. Robinson as co-editor, 2009) presented Romantic & Postromantic Poetry. The series gives prominence to writers both within and outside the western canon, with emphases on political engagement and experimental forms, including poetic prose. Each omnium-gatherum is 700-900 pages long.
In the introduction to the first volume the editors describe their project ambitiously as a “global anthology of twentieth-century modernism with an emphasis on those international and national movements that have tried to change the direction of poetry and art as a necessary condition for changing the ways in which we think and act as human beings”. Each volume presents ‘forerunners’ or preludes: poets from whom modern poetry takes inspiration. The editors write lengthy introductions to many of the sections and provide following commentaries for nearly every author presented.
The fourth volume, “incubating” for a quarter-century, as the editors tell us, is organized similarly but focussing on a region that is home to one of the editors, a region whose literature has been little seen in the West. The area stretches from Libya to Morocco and Western Sahara/Mauritania, known in the Arabic world as the Maghreb (the West) as opposed to the Mashreq (the East). Where the first three volumes are divided into ‘galleries’, the fourth presents the diwan, Arabic for gathering or anthology. The volume’s unofficial title is Diwan Ifrikiya.) The introductions are a splendid resource for understanding the history, culture, context and prosody of the works, coming from Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions.All the works have been translated into English, sometimes via a French rendering of an original in Arabic. What is ‘lost in translation’ is more than compensated for by our discovery of such a treasury of poetry seldom encountered in the West.
Hirschhorn is a world-renowned medical doctor credited with saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children in Africa with his new techniques, as well as a poet and critic based in the UK.
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1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    Comme d’habitude, félicitations!

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