Poetry. African & African American Studies. Translated by Peter Thompson. English speakers can now join Africans and Africa scholars in recognizing Abdellatif Laâbi as Morocco's preeminent living poet. He is winner of France's Prix Goncourt and the Grand Prix de La Francophonie, a poet who shares the stage with the best-selling novelist Tahar Ben Jelloun. This recognition has been an uncertain journey, first interrupted by imprisonment, then accelerated by great productivity in the years that Laâbi has lived in France. Laâbi's fame, and his troubles, grew in the 1960s when he founded the journal Souffles. It was, at first, a venue for Moroccan writers and not a forum for the politics that would attract the government's ire. When this journal, and the journal Anfas, became more political, Laâbi was arrested in 1972. There are numerous allusions to his imprisonment and torture in the work.PERISHABLE POEMS is a quiet volume, less suggestive and startling than receptive, like a fifty-eight year old man's reevaluation of life. These poems gently question the yield of disparate episodes in a long life, and of experiences more harrowing than most of us can understand. It has now been thirty-six years since Laâbi’s release from prison, but the passions or that memory and the disappointments of Arab Spring still shine a light both human and harsh on authoritarianism, and on the life that flowers again after the cruelest repression.
Abdellatif Laâbi is one of the most prolific and critically acclaimed contemporary writers from North Africa. Laâbi was born in 1942 in Fez, Morocco, under the French Protectorate. A decade after Morocco gained independence from France, Laâbi founded the renowned literary magazine Souffles, a socio- political journal that merged Moroccan creative energies in a linguistic and artistic revolution that spread throughout the Maghreb. The journal was eventually banned due to its insurgent nature, and Laâbi was imprisoned and tortured for his political beliefs and his writings. Much of his work is influenced by his time in prison and the exile he was forced into upon his release. A novelist, poet, essayist, and playwright, Laâbi has also translated works by Mahmoud Darwish, Abdallah Zrika, Abd al-Wahhab Al- Bayati, and Hanna Minna, among others. In addition to its powerful influence in Morocco, Laâbi's work is well known in France, earning him countless literary prizes, including the Prix Goncourt in 2009 and the Academie francaise's Grand Prix de la Francophonie in 2011. Laâbi is undoubtedly the major francophone voice of Moroccan poetry today. He is the author of THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE (Lithic Press, 2021), PERISHIBLE POEMS (Dialogos/Lavender Ink, 2019), and THE WORLD'S EMBRACE: SELECTED POEMS (City Lights Publishers, 2003).Author City: USA
Peter is Professor of Modern Languages and Literature at Roger Williams University. He edits Ezra: An Online Journal of Translation, founded in 2007. Besides Angle of Incidence/Shades (Diálogos, 2012), his books include Daybreak and New Words, (song lyrics, 1996, 1998). More recently he has translated Léon-Paul Fargue's Poèmes (2003), Véronique Tadjo's first book of poetry, Red Earth, (2006), along with Nabile Farès's Escuchando tu historia (2008), Un Passager de l'Occident (2010), L'Exil et le désarroi (2012) and Nassira Azzouz's The Gates of The Sun (2010). His translation of Tchicaya u Tam'si's THE BELLY (Dialogos / Lavender Ink) -the first full-length translation of Tchicaya's poetry-appears in 2014.