“The Poem of Christ” A Poem by Hafedh Mahfoudh (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

Picture of Hafedh Mahfoudh borrowed off http://www.alefyaa.com

Picture of Hafedh Mahfoudh borrowed off http://www.alefyaa.com

This is the original poem in Arabic. It appeared in doroob.com on October 21, 2012.

قصيـدة المسيـح ~ حافظ محفوظ

-1-
خذ شكلك المرئيّ واهبط
فوق غيمتك القصيرة،
كيف حال الأرض؟
لا تسأل، ترقّب ثورة الأشجار
وانتظر السّلام محلّقا…
ربّيت أطفالا لأجلك،
هم جنودك بعد جيل،
هم حواريّوك فاحذرهم جميعا
واتّخذني شاهدا
لك في الطّريق روائح الفردوس
سيّدة تراقب نومك الفضّيّ
سيّدة تعدّ طعامك…
الجوعى أمام الباب فانهرهم جميعا
واتّخذني حارسا
لك آيتان تكلّم الموتى وتستفتي الحجر
حاذر إذن!
أرجوحة في الرّيح هذا الملك
فاقطع حبلها،
واصنع من الغصن البليل الفلك
وافتح بابها،
وقل اصعدوا، باركت توبتكم
وكن ربّانها
سيكون دمع الأرض يمّك
آمن خشب السّفين
وآمن مجدافها.
لك إثم خوفك من ضياع البدو في لغة الفراسة
فاتّخذني ترجمانك وانطلق…
-2-
لا بأس،
هذي الخمر إن شاؤوا دمي!
لكنّها غسلت صراخي بالنّخيل وهدهدتني
ربّما هزّت إليها بالسّحاب وبلّلت صوتي
لها لبن اللّغات وأرضعت سمعي
لها حضن الملاك وكفكفت دمعي
لها ظلّ الحصاة،
فلا تكن ولدا لغير الأرض يا كبد السّمـاء
وخذ دمي.
خذ ما تساقط من جناح ملاكها
ما ظلّ منثورا على النّهدين من رمل الجنان وريحها
خذ رفّة الجفن الأخيرة
أنّة الخصر الهباء
خذ ما يشاء اللّون
خذ ما انحلّ من عقد المساء
-3-
أحسّ انبجاس حروف على شفتيّ
أحسّ هبوب السّلالة من شرقها
أرى جسر ضوء يطول
وعاصفة في الأعالي
أرى بجعات يشكّلن بالغيم إسمي
أرى شجرا
لكأنّي أراه يميل
أرى في البعيد بحارا وصحراء عالية
لكأنّي أراها تميل
أرى الطّير والوحش والكائنات
كأنّي أراها تميل
أراني أميل على صدرها وأنام

“The Poem of Christ” A Poem by Hafedh Mahfoudh (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

-1-

Take your visible shape and land

in your low cloud!

How’s earth?

Don’t ask! Expect the revolution of the trees,

and wait for peace, fluttering…

I reared children for you,

They are your soldiers, after a generation.

They are your apostles. Beware of them all!

And take me as a witness.

Scents of paradise for you in the pathway.

A lady surveilling your silvery sleep.

A lady preparing your food…

The hungry are in front of the door. So scold them all!

And take me as a guard!

You have two miracles:

you talk to the dead and you call rocks for a poll.

So, beware!

This kingdom is a trapeze in the wind.

So cut its rope!

And make ships out of the wet bough!

And open their doors,

and say, Go aboard I blessed your repentance.

And be its captain!

The earth tears will be your sea.

Make safe the ship’s timber,

& the oars!

You have the sin of your fear

of the Bedouins’ errancy in the language of the acumen.

So make me your translator and set out…

-2-

Never mind!

This wine is my blood if they want.

But it washed my cries with the palm trees and lulled me.

Perhaps it shook the clouds against it and wetted my voice.

It has the milk of languages and it breastfed my ears.

It has the lap of the angel and it wiped out my tears.

It has the shadow of the pebble.

O, liver of the sky! Be only the child of earth,

and take my blood!

Take the debris of her angel’s wing,

& the gardens’ sand and scents still scattered on the breasts!

Take the last delicacy of the lid,

& the aerosol waist’s moan!

Take what the colour likes!

Take remnants of the evening’s unstrung necklace!

-3-

I feel a gush of letters on my lips.

I feel the breed blowing from its east.

I see a bridge of light growing longer

and a tempest above.

I see pelicans molding my name with clouds.

I see trees

as if I see them swaying.

I see from faraway seas and a high desert

as if I see them swaying.

I see the bird, the beast, and the creatures

as if I see them swaying.

I see myself swaying to her bosom and I sleep.

Hafedh Mahfoudh’s Bio:

Hafedh Mahfoudh is a Tunisian poet and novelist. He was born in the Tunisian city of Ksour Essef in 1965. He is a teacher of Arabic language and literature. He was awarded many literary prizes such as The Tunisian Golden Comar in 1999 for his novel The Angels’ Guard. He authored many poetry collections like Anxiety (1989), The Ants’ Poems (1994), and The Potter (1999). Chief among his novels, we can cite The Confusion of Senses (1996), The Wisdom Cube (2003), and Hourria (2005).

 

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“This is Me..”A Poem by Saghir Oulad Ahmed (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

Picture of Saghir Oulad Ahmed borrowed off http://www.doroob.com

Picture of Saghir Oulad Ahmed borrowed off http://www.doroob.com

This is the original poem in Arabic. It appeared in doroob.com on December 11, 2012.

هذا أنا.. ~ أولاد أحمد

هذا أنا..
فكّرتُ في شعبٍ يقول : نعمْ ولاَ
عدّلتُ ما فكّرتُ فيهِ لأنّني – ببساطةٍ – عدّلتُ ما فكّرتُ فيهِ
فكّرتُ في شعبٍ يقولُ : نعمْ لـِ : لاَ
فكّرتُ في عددِ الضحايا واليتامى والأراملِ
واللصوصْ
فكّرتُ في هربِ الحروفِ من النصوصْ.
فكّرتُ في شعبٍ يغادرُ أرضهُ
بنسائهِ ورجالهِ
وجِمالهِ وكلابهِ.
فكّرتُ في تلكَ اليتيمةِ – في الحكومةِ ـ
وحدها تستوردُ التصفيقْ
من حفلٍ لسوبرانو يُغنّي للغزالةِ
والعدالةِ والمسيحْ.
فكّرتُ في صمتٍ فصيحْ
مضتِ الحياةُ كما مضتْ
مضت الحياةُ تهافُتًا وَ.. سبهلا
سأقولُ للأعشى الكبير قصيدة في البار،
إن نفذَ الشرابُ، وصاح في ليلِ المدينةِ ديكُها وغُرابُها :
- يــــــــــا ناسُ
ليس هناكَ – بعدَ الآنَ – غَدْ.

“This is Me..”A Poem by Saghir Oulad Ahmed (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

This is me..

I thought of a people that says, Yes & No.

I adjusted what I had thought of because – simply – I

adjusted what I had thought of.

I thought of a people that says, Yes to No.

I thought of the number of victims, orphans, and widows,

& thieves.

I thought of letters fleeting from the texts.

I thought of a people/ women & men/ camels & dogs

leaving their land.

I thought of that orphan – in the government –

She was solely importing clapping

from a soprano’s concert that is singing to the gazelle,

justice, & the Christ.

I thought of an eloquent silence.

Life has gone as it has gone.

Life has gone in rushing, & in vain.

I will say a poem to Al-Asha al Kabir in the bar,

if wine runs out & the cock and the crow of the city

cry in its night:

“– O, folks!

There is no tomorrow – after now – over there.”

Mohamed Sgaier Awlad Ahmed’s Bio:

Mohamed Sgaier Awlad Ahmed (sometimes Saghir Oulad Ahmed) is a Tunisian poet. He was born in the Tunisian city of Sidi Bouzid in 1955. He was invited to several international poetry festivals and read his poetry in most Tunisian cities. Awlad Ahmed’s poetry is mostly known for its satire, humour, and caustic remarks. His poems are translated into several European languages.

 

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“Redeyef: The Mother of Rebels” A Poem by Jamel Slii (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

[Video of Jamel Slii Reading his Poem in Redeyef.]

This is the original poem in Arabic:

قصيدة: “الرديف أم الثائرين” ~ للشاعر جمال الصليعي
الرديف ..
هذه الرديف
أرض أقفرت عشبا
لكنها أخصبت بالعز منتصبا
هذه الرديف أم الثائرين
أتت تعلم الغافلين المجد و الغضب
من قبل أن يعرف الثوار مسلكهم
خط الرجال هنا دربا لهم خضبا
السابقون الى الثوراة
مسكنهم حر المناجم
حيث الصخر قد كتب
لاشي فوق هدير الشعب منفجرا
بركان غيظ رمى النيران و اللهب
فاخلع نعالك هذه الأرض طاهرة
جرى عليها دم الأحرار و انسكب
مر النار
مر النار تكتب
تفاصيل اغفلها النائمون
و انت تراقص قد اللهيب على حشرجات السبات
و أنجز قليلا من الموت تحتاجه كي تفيق الحياة
قليل قليل من الزيت فوق اذا الشعب يكفي
لتأتي اذا الشعب رافلة مزدهاة
يواعدك الجوع بين الرغيف البعيد
و بين مواعيد عرقوبها خلبي اللغاة
ولست فقيرا لا لا لست فقيرا
ولكن نواقير مصرك أعطت عناقيدها للجباة
ونحن الذين استخضنا بشاعرنا اذ أراد الحياة
وجاء البغاة فقالوا له نرى خيركم في الممات
لنا الأرض قالوا و خيراتها من عليها
و شطئانها الساحرات
و نمنحكم قفة الفقر و الجهل
و الحزب و الصحف الكاذبات
مر النار تكتب
فقد كذبت هذه النخب المشتراة
تريك أناقتها في النهار
و في الليل تأوي
الى فرش الممـ….. الموميات
لها عسل الوهم في قطران الطلاة
مر النار تكتب
مر النار تكتب فان لنا من رصيد الدماء
كفايتنا دائما للنجاة
لنا فائض من كرامة شعب أبي
و لكن طيبتنا مدخل للطغاة
و في آخر الصبر مقبرة للطغاة
مر النار تكتب
مر النار تكتب فأمك حاضرة للشهادة
كانت اعدت بنيها لكل الدروب و كل الجهات
مر النار تكتب
تفاصيل….. يجهلها الساسة العابرون
و أهل الخراج و وفد الجباة
مر النار تكتب
اذا الشعب يوما أراد الحياة
فلابد ان تستجيب الحياة
ولابد ان يسقط الظالمون الطغاة

“Redeyef: The Mother of Rebels” A Poem by Jamel Slii (Translated by Ali Znaidi)

Redeyef..

This is Redeyef—

a land devoid of grass,

yet, fertile with honour, erect.

This is Redeyef; the mother of rebels.

She came to teach the mindless

glory & anger.

Before the revolutionaries know their pathway

men, here, had traced for them a pigmented path:

The harbingers of the revolutions,

their home is the mines’ heat

where rocks had written,

Nothing is above the explosive roar of the people—

a volcano of wrath which spewed fire & blaze.

So, take off your shoes because this land is pure

on which the blood of the free flowed & spilled.

Order the fire!

Order the fire to write

details neglected by the sleepers,

while you are dancing with the blaze’s stature

to the hibernation’s rattles,

& perform a little bit of death, something you need

in order for life to wake up.

A little bit, a little bit of oil over “If The People” would suffice,

so that “If The People” comes swaggering & ceremonious.

Hunger is dating you between a remote loaf of bread

& appointments whose jam to-morrow is full of flowery words.

& you are not poor. No, no, you are not poor,

but the hearts of your land had given their grapes to tax collectors.

& we who fought an uphill battle/

& our model was our poet who “chose to live.”

But tyrants came & said to him, We see your good in death.

The land is ours, they said, and so are its resources

and whoever treads on it,

& its mesmerising beaches.

& we bestow on you the bag of poverty and ignorance,

the party, and the phony newspapers.

Order the fire to write:

These purchased élites have lied.

They show you their elegance in the daytime,

& at night, they shelter in

the mattresses of the mumm… mummies,

& they have not but the honey of illusion in the painters’ tar.

Order the fire to write,

Order the fire to write, we have enough blood credit—

always sufficient to get rescue,

we have a surplus of a prideful people’s dignity,

but our kindness is the tyrants’ gate,

but at the end of patience it will be the tyrants’ cemetery.

Order the fire to write,

Order the fire to write, your mother is ready for martyrdom,

& she had prepared her children for all paths and all directions.

Order the fire to write

details… ignored by the ephemeral politicians,

the community of land tax collectors,

& the delegation of tax collectors.

Order the fire to write,

If the people choose to live one day,

life can do nothing but give in,

and unjust tyrants can do nothing but collapse.

Jamel Slii’s Bio:

Jamel Slii is a Tunisian poet. He was born in the Tunisian city of Douz on November 25, 1955. He lived in Libya in the 1970’s. Then, he returned to Tunisia. He read his poetry in many Arab countries. He published his first collection in 1998 under the title of The Valley of Ants which is, in fact, a long poem.

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His Excellency Mr. the Minster and Corruption: An Article Written by Kamel Riahi and Translated by Ali Znaidi.

His New Novel Is Among the Arabic Booker Longlist.

Tunisian El Wad Is Breaking into the Files of Corruption through Novel Writing:

 An Article Written by Kamel Riahi and Translated by Ali Znaidi.

The Front Cover of His Excellency Mr. the Minister; a novel longlisted in the Arabic Booker (Aljazeera)

The Front Cover of His Excellency Mr. the Minister; a novel longlisted in the Arabic Booker (Aljazeera)

Kamel Riahi – Tunisia

Houcine El Wad was known as an outstanding researcher in Arabic literature and a professor in the Tunisian and Arab universities who was preoccupied with Arabic old poetry, about which he authored several research papers and studies until 2010 when he came out on the cultural scene with his novel The City’s Scents under the most important Tunisian novelistic series “Ouyoun El Mouassira” (Contemporary Gists) which is run by the famous Tunisian critic Taoufik Baccar.

With debut novel he won the Tunisian Golden Comar, a prize given to the best Tunisian novel. After one year he published his second novel His Excellency Mr. the Minister under the same series to be longlisted in the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Besides, he is the only Tunisian in this year’s contest.

Taoufik Baccar has revealed that Houcine El Wad’s novels that he published were written years ago, but they remained hidden in the drawers, either due to despair of the reality of culture in Tunisia or as a result of fear of publication or appearing with a new identity after being known as a critic and a successful researcher.

Besides, the delay of publishing these works arises from such an audacity through questioning the Tunisian political reality in the former regime against which the Revolution of January 14th was waged, particularly through his novel His Excellency Mr. the Minister.

The Degeneration of Value

Introducing the novel, Tunisian university researcher Chokri El Mabkhout puts a significant title highlighting the theme upon which Houcine El Wad’s novel touches which is “Dégage Ya Issabatou Essourraq,” (O, band of thieves! Go away!) a slogan raised by the Tunisian people during their revolution against the dictator. Thus he gives priority to the people’s outcries over the discourse of the élite.

El Mabkhout said,

Houcine El Wad wrote this novel years ago before the revolution.

And there is no doubt that, at the time of its writing, he was inspired

by what was circulated about the state of corruption and thieves,

and the scandals of its ministers and their leader and his royal family.

The novel narrates the story of someone who found an anonymous manuscript in the National Library. The failure to find its owner induced him to publish it, waiting that its owner would recognize it.

The manuscript includes a plea of one of the ministers who was accused by the regime after lawyers refused to defend him. In it, he wrote his story with his cousin, the corrupted prime minister and the server of the old regime who led him to political doom through appointing him as a minister of natural resources and property, taking advantage of his deteriorated economic situation as a primary school teacher.

The man turned from an opponent of the regime to a server and defender and from an authentic labour unionist to a foe of the labour union which defends the rights of the downtrodden, to the extent that he described the comrades of militancy as “state haters” after calling for a general strike.

The primary school teacher with principles became also a tool of the regime – the party – to sell the properties of the state and recklessly abandon them to the private sector. Though the minister did not steal as it is stated in his plea, he signed all thefts in a legal way bankrupting the state in favour of “His Excellency” through abandoning the properties of the state at the cheapest prices.

The novel looks closely in more than 250 pages at the path of the degeneration of value in front of money influence, as if Houcine El Wad is bringing out the human subconscious to us, reminding of the French saying “a clean hand steals nothing.”

The State of Corruption

A novel that delves into the cellars of politics cannot neglect the reality of moral corruption embraced by the one-party state through several manifestations. For instance, woman is one of the mechanisms of the functioning and management of that corruption – be she a secretary, a politician, or her royal majesty.

There, in the ministries’ offices and palaces, prostitution activates as an essential mainstay that forms a parallel line of political prostitution. All that is framed according to a special view of politics as an intimate foe of morality because the latter, according to the politicians of the state of corruption, is considered as idiocy.

That’s why the prime minister or His Excellency was changing his wives as often as he was changing his socks, paying no heed to their beauty or young age, while he was climbing the ladder of political positions because, according to him, high standing and power are the sole criteria of marriage.

Thus Houcine El Wad’s novel touches upon a new old triad of politics, money, and sex, declaring, as critic Chokri El Mabkhout stated “a radical collusion between these three hypostases.”

Houcine El Wad’s novel supports a new trend in the Tunisian novel which was absent and modest – that is, of “the political novel.” This novelistic pattern began developing in this glimmer of freedom lived by the Tunisian writer, despite the great perils that threaten the Tunisian novelists, many of whom hasted in writing the political in a superficial and sermonical way.

But Houcine El Wad had been safe from that because perhaps he wrote his novel before the revolution, or because perhaps he broke into creative writing and fiction at an advanced age and experience as he was born in 1948.

Despite its originality, seriousness, and its strong language that is sometimes sarcastic due to the insertion, for example, of daily speech and colloquial Tunisian, weak points appeared in it here and there and especially sometimes the reader’s feeling of boredom due to its slow events.

Besides, the novelist did not succeed in the frame story because the novel as a whole is a plea before the court written by the minister to defend himself. And because the reference to this through the required expressions is absent he sometimes narrates chapters without referring to the origin of the text as a plea. And whenever he mentioned that, the technique sounded unaccountable, projective, and intrusive.

This article appeared in aljazeera.net 14/12/2012 by Kamel Riahi.

You can read the original text in Arabic here.

Translated from Arabic by Ali Znaidi.

 

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A selection of poetry by Tunisian poet Amel Moussa in Turkish: An Article Translated by Ali Znaidi

Amel Moussa

Amel Moussa

A selection of poetry by Tunisian poet Amel Moussa in Turkish: An Article Translated by Ali Znaidi

Tunis – Al Hayet

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

A translated selection of poetry by Tunisian poet and researcher Amel Moussa was published in Turkish language in Istanbul under the title of Enough Flesh to Become a Cloud by Callisto Kitap. The translation that was described as precise and focused on the aesthetics of the text was made by Turkish poet and translator Metin Fındıkçı who has already translated more than thirty books by such names as Mahmoud Darwish, Adonis, Mohamed Bennis, Maysoun Sakr, and others from Arabic into Turkish.

This book by Amel Moussa whose poetry was translated into several languages like Italian, French, English, Spanish, and Polish includes fifty-two poems like “I Turned My Body into Wings,” “Photos without Light,” “A Painting Not Endured by the Wall,” “Joseph,” “Living with Three Elements,” “Female of Water,” “The Desire Recitation,” and “He Feminises Me Twice.”

Poet Amel Moussa is considered one of the important poetry names in Tunisia. The most prominent features of her experience are the erotic dimension which is intertwined with mysticism and the preoccupation with the realms of the self.

Originally appeared in Al Hayat 05/12/2012.  .

You can read the original text in Arabic here.

Translated from Arabic by Ali Znaidi.

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Only One Tunisian Novel to Compete for the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction

Today December, 6th, 2013 the longlist for the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction was announced. Only one Tunisian title did make the rolls which is Saadatouhou Essaid Elwazir (His Excellency Mr. the Minister) by Tunisian novelist, critic, and university professor Houcine El Wad.

Houcine El Wad's novel His Excellency Mr. the Minister (Front Cover)

Houcine El Wad’s novel His Excellency Mr. the Minister (Front Cover)

You can have more ideas about the author and this novel here.

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Houcine El Wad’s His Excellency Mr. the Minister: A Radical Collusion between the Capital, the Body, and Politics. An Article Written by Alia Ben Nhila and Translated by Ali Znaidi.

Saadatouhou Essaid Elwazir (His Excellency Mr. the Minister) is a new novel written by Houcine El Wad (or Houcine El Oued), published by Dar El Janoub Editions (Sud Éditions, Tunis) in 268 pages of medium size under the series “Ouyoun El Mouassira” (Contemporary Gists) which is run by Professor Taoufik Baccar, and introduced by university professor and researcher Chokri El Mabkhout.

 

His Excellency Mr. the Minister reveals the radical collusion between the capital, the body, and politics which, according to El Mabkhout, “are three hypostases that make transparent a disguised and propagated corruption that originated from an incestuous union, though ambiguous and equivocal, between the desire for easy money, sex addiction, and lust for power.

Animals that enslaved each other and that lean towards the perpetuation of enslaving the human race in the whole world, either in an explicit and naked manner as is the case in our Arab lands, my country and the like, or generally in an implicit and gentle manner as is the case in those countries that made their counter powers and are still fine-tuning them according to the existing authorities’ deceit and maneuver.”

 

Dr. Houcine El Wad is a teacher of literature and criticism. He was born in Moknine in 1948. He obtained a State Doctorate in Arab Literatures from the Tunisian university in 1987. He taught in the department of Arabic language in the Faculty of Arts in King Saud University. He also worked as a director of Institut Bourguiba des Langues Vivantes in Tunis (Bourguiba Institute of Modern Languages), a general secretary of the national committee, UNESCO, ALECSO, and ISESCO, and a dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of Kairouan.

 

He wrote many books and he is the director of the series Mafatih (Keys) issued by Dar El Janoub Editions. He wrote many books about old and modern Arabic literature, and modern methodologies, for instance, (al binyatou alqasassiya fi Risalat al-ghufran) The Fictional Structure in The Epistle of Forgiveness (1972), (fi tarikh al-adab: mafahim wa manahij) (On the History of Literature: Concepts and Methodologies) (1979), (fi manahij addirassat al-adabiyya) (On the Methodologies of Literary Studies) (1982), (Al-Moutanabbi wa attajribatou aljamaliyya inda alarab) Al Moutanabbi and the Aesthetic Experience of Arabs (1987), (madkhal ila shir al Moutanabbi) An Introduction to Al Moutanabbi’s Poetry (1991), (Dirastoun fi shir Bashar) A Study about Bashar’s Poetry (1992), (al lougatou ashir fi diwan abi Tammam) Language Poetry in Abu Tammam’s Poetry Book (1999), (jamaliyyatou alana fi shir Al-Asha al Kabir) The Aesthetics of the Ego in Al-Asha’s Poetry (2001). He also wrote introductions for other writers’ books and numberless articles in the supplement of Al-3amal (The Action) and Al-Fikr Magazine (Thought Magzine). He was an activist especially between 1972 and 1974 during the emergence of the movement of the literary Avant-gardism.

 

As for the narrative art, his (Rawa-ihou al-Madina) The City’s Scents won the Tunisian Golden Comar in 2011 and it was received with a great appraisal from the intellectuals and critics. Critic Taoufik Baccar said that its style is ranked to the level of world literature which is a rare thing in the national literary production because it epitomises in all its traits all the old Tunisian cities. In it, he described the social environment in its colours and fragments and particularly its scents – be they lovely or stinky because it is the essential element that galvanises the literary text in which scents of mosques, oil mills, souks (traditional markets), and even dirt and brothels throng together, plus the massive use of proverbs by the characters. All that is delivered in the framework of a humourous and sarcastic viewpoint, but at the same time it is not a neutral viewpoint as it is most of the time critical and exasperated.

 

It seems that El Wad’s novel (His Excellency Mr. the Minister) also enjoys a good reception. Professor and Arabic language and literature researcher Chokri El Mabkhout wrote an introduction for it in which he stated that El Wad wrote it years ago before the Tunisian revolution and he was inspired, at the time of its writing, by what was circulated about the state of corruption and thieves, and the scandals of its ministers and their leader and his royal family, leaving the rest, which is the most important in art, to the logic of the story and the novel making. The artistic world which was made by the writer’s imagination seemed similar to faces of reality whose some secrets were divulged by the days, but, according to El Mabkhout, “You will not find in this novel, even if you guess and compare, any minister in person. And I mostly presume that you will keep guessing without reaching any certainty. And it would be difficult for you to delineate this event or that occurrence whatsoever the effort you made. You will only notice the logic of the running of the state—the state of the countries’ looters and sellers, the devastators of minds, and the enslavors of people.”

 

His Excellency Mr. the Minister is a novel which Houcine El Wad wanted it to be a trial of a minister that lawyers refused to defend him due to his dirty files of corruption because he worked in the entourage of “His Excellency.” And perhaps he means by it the ousted president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. It depicts some stages of the life of a minister who was a primary school teacher suffering from poverty, deprivation in all its forms, and life’s hardships which chance and greed put him in the position of a minister in a state governed by corruption in which he did nasty jobs and when those jobs were over his master threw him into the cellars of the Interior Ministry, the hecatombs of tribunals, and the abattoir of the madhouse.

 

But, although the novel was written years ago before the revolution of January 14th and the events are similar to what is happening today in Tunisia after the revolution, the difference, as it seems, lies in the fact that some lawyers after the revolution do not refuse to defend the corruptors who were involved in bribery and even some of them are rushing to defend the remnants of the former regime and not only the minister or even the biggest symbol of corruption in the corrupt state.

 

Originally appeared in the Tunisian daily Assabah 05/11/2011 by Alia Ben Nhila.

You can read the original text in Arabic here.

Translated from Arabic by Ali Znaidi.

 

 

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Ali Znaidi’s Second Poetry Chapbook

My second poetry chapbook Moon’s Cloth Embroidered with Poems was published on October 4, 2012 by Origami Poems Project in the USA.  It is in fact a micro-chapbook. Many thanks to to editors Lynnie Gobeille and Jan Keough.

Besides, a selected poem from the micro-chapbook was also published in the same site. You can read it here.

Ali Znaidi's Moon's Cloth Embroidered with Poems

Ali Znaidi’s Moon’s Cloth Embroidered with Poems

 

 

By the way the Origami Poems Project accepts submissions of translated poetry.

My micro-chapbook is available as a free PDF download here.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ali Znaidi’s Debut Poetry Chapbook

Ali Znaidi’s Experimental Ruminations (Cover)

 

My debut poetry chapbook Experimental Ruminations was published on September 20, 2012 by Fowlpox Press in Canada. Many thanks to editor Virgil Kay.

 

 

It is available as a free PDF download here.

 

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“Scentless” Tunisian Novels! An Article Written by Abdeddayem Sallami and Translated by Ali Znaidi.

[Habib Selmi’s The Scents of Marie-Claire] Among the woks that put an end to the generalisation stating the inexistence of a Tunisian novel. Photo borrowed off http://www.alarab.co.uk

“Scentless” Tunisian Novels!                                                           

By Abdeddayem Sallami

Translated by Ali Znaidi 

In 1966 Sonallah Ibrahim published his little novel The Smell of it and said about it “it is a novel that is on the edge of the autobiography” because although it tells the experience of a Leftist intellectual, we can find in it an identification with his experience as he left the prison after five years and he was thrown into the street without a shelter or a wage.

In the street he observes the conflict of three philosophies triggering the novel’s events: The philosophy of the Nasserite state which raises slogans against imperialism and makes the citizens hope for gaining wars and overcoming hunger, the philosophy of street which tends to individualism, showing off, and transgression against the system of social values, particularly the value of altruism, and the intellectual’s utopian philosophy which is based upon the dreams of Socialism, and the realisation of social justice for everyone.

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We now remember the novel of The Smell of it which was not predestined to circulate among readers the way his The Star of August did because we found in the scent of its events and its modern artistic styles a persistence in keeping to linger in the mind after the passing of more than fifteen years after the date of its reading.

Perhaps among the causes of subdividing this rememberance is the inexistence of “scent” in most of the Tunisian novels which we examined with all our senses and reading alertness. Despite the variety of novel titles during the last two decades and the novelists’ diversification of the advertising styles to the point the advertising act became more pleasing than their novels, most of those novelistic publications remained lacking the minimum of life’s signs. They even were almost completely to be linguistic corpses waiting for festering in a bookshelf or in a pavement despite the beautiful dedications in them.

Although we find some exaggeration and generalisations in one of Dr Mohamed El Bardi’s university lessons stating that there is no Tunisian novel, and even we find a geographical concept that narrows down the meaning of literature, the status quo of the Tunisian narration permits us to say that there is a novel in it, yet it does not go beyond the personal endeavours.

They are endeavours which are not governed by the rule of “who worked hard and succeeded” because they are pertaining to the field of creation and creation does not accept relativisation or negligence because all through a century the corpus of the novel in Tunisia did not exceed 400 publications, and even the publications of the same novelist remained scarce and quality relied on the principle of “the cock’s egg” [something that happens once in a lifetime] which made most of the readers know only one novel of those novelists.

Perhaps we ascribe this to the fact that we find “extremism” in some of the new Tunisian novelists in their riding of the wave of narrative experimentation and their endeavour to go beyond its rules which were set by the theories of Western critics. This made their novels full of voidness, the chaos of meanings, and the gratuitousness of events to the point they became devoid of a narrative flesh or a semantic scent and intending to virtually say everything, but in fact they say nothing.

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To put an end to the generalisation that states the inexistence of a Tunisian novel, it is sufficient to remember novels that achieved the essence of narration and formed, though scarce, a narrative accomplishment that gave its owners the right of the outstanding presence in the Arab novelistic scene, for instance, Slaheddine Boujah’s The Slave Trader (Al-Nakhkhas), Ibrahim Dargouthi’s The Dervishes Return to Exile (Addarawish Yaoudouna ila al Manfa), Mohamed El Bardi’s Henna, Habib Selmi’s Bayya’s Lovers (Ushaq Bayya) and The Scents of Marie-Claire (Rawaih Marie-Claire), Abou Bakr Ayadi’s The Last of the Subjects (Akhir Arraiyya) and The Time of the Dinar ( Zamanou Addanous), and Mohamed Ali Yousfi’s Sun Tiles (Shams Alqaramid). These are novels that relied upon a great awareness of the value of the storytelling act, committed themselves to most of its artistic rules, paid attention to the people’s status quo, and revealed what was unspoken about in the daily life with all its colours.

Originally appeared in Alarabonline 23/08/2012 by Abdeddayem Sallami.

You can read the original text in Arabic here.

Translated from Arabic by Ali Znaidi.

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