It was considered as a meeting point of some poets who felt the emergency of a poetic stand and revival, but which, very quickly, crystallized all Moroccan creative energies: painters, film-makers, men of theatre, researchers and thinkers. It was banned in , but throughout its short life, it opened up to cultures from other countries of the Maghreb and those of the Third World. Click here to add this poet to your My Favorite Poets. The earth opens and welcomes you
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Moroccan writer Abdellatif Laabi is a French-language poet, playwright, translator, essayist, novelist, raconteur, and activist whose works reveal his engagement with social and political issues and a strong commitment against oppression, injustice, and human rights abuses. He played a key role in the cultural renewal of Morocco in the mids, restating the complex issue of developing nations nationalism and decolonization.
Laabi was born in Fez, Morocco presumably in , to a Muslim family of craftsmen, into an illiterate environment. He has pointed out that one of the reasons he started to write was to allow people who are not able to express themselves to speak.
His mother, Ghita, was in constant crisis about her condition as a woman, and in a way was a feminist without knowing, Laabi has said; he made her the central character in one of his novels, La fond de la jarre The bottom of the jug, Laabi attended the French-Muslim School.
At school, children were taught only in French. At that time, he realized his condition of colonization, and this situation generated internal conflict: when he began to write, the only language that he really knew was French, even though his birth language was Arabic. When he was fourteen years old, Morocco declared its independence from France.
He entered the University of Rabat where he earned his B. They staged plays by Fernando Arrabal and Bertolt Brecht , and after only one season they were censored and the theater was closed down. He also founded an important literary review, the journal Souffles Breaths , in ; the Arabic version of this journal was called Anfas. He founded it with the poets Mohammed Khair-Eddine, a major poet and novelist who died in in total poverty, and Mostafa Nissaboury, who continues to write and publish.
Later on, other artists and writers participated in the project, from Morocco, Algeria, other parts of Africa, France, and one from Germany. The magazine lasted for six years and published twenty-three issues in French and eight in Arabic before it was banned in The magazine allowed an avant-garde movement to be born and express itself, and therefore encouraged the literature of all Arab countries, as well as opening Morocco to cultures of the other countries of the Maghreb and of developing nations.
This group of writers rebelled against French literature. Growing up under colonialism, they were not allowed to learn the language of their country and were forced to live culturally dependent; consequently they wanted to be finished with colonial history.
They thought that not only the economy and the government had to be decolonized, but people's minds as well. At the same time, Laabi involved himself in national politics. Both of them were imprisoned in and tortured. While in prison, Laabi received strong support from friends and intellectuals all over the world.
In an international committee for his freedom was created with the participation of many intellectuals and the support of numerous foreign journals. He continued to write poetry during this period and received numerous literary prizes such as the Liberty Prize awarded by the French PEN Club.
He describes his prison years in a series of poems and letters titled Chroniques de la citadelle d'exil Chronicles of the citadel of banishment, Laabi tried to return to his homeland several times, but since has lived definitively in Paris.
He was also deeply influenced by non-French or non-Arab writers such as Fedor Dostoevski. But most important was his awareness of what was happening in the Maghreb during thes and s.
Like many of his generation, he thought with Fanon that colonized countries had to break free of the West. As a writer, he believed that there were moments in history—in the history of literature too—when individuals are the instruments for the articulation of social needs. Laabi was particularly influenced by the 23 March massacre in Casablanca of children and parents at a peaceful demonstration in opposition to Hassan II 's suspension of the constitution. This tragic event was a turning point in Laabi's professional and political life, and Laabi went on to write a poem about the massacre.
Laabi's other contribution has been the extensive translation into French of a large number of Arabic poets. He has also published four novels: L'oeil de la nuit ; The eye of the night , Les rides du lion ; The wrinkles of the lion , and Le chemin des ordalies ; The road of ordeals, published in English as Rue de Retour , , reedited in as Le fou d'espoir Crazy with hope , in which he relates his painful years in prison.
Le fond de lajarre ; The bottom of the jug evokes traditional life in Fez during the colonial period. He has written three books for children as well. Even though Laabi is a celebrated intellectual in Europe, there is still a marked tendency for Western and Moroccan critics alike to minimize or dismiss the political commitment of Maghrebi writers who receive literary prizes, reside outside their home countries, and choose to participate in official dialogues concerning nationalist sore points such as francophony.
Moreover, his work and that of other francophone writers has not been very well represented in American literary magazines, although that may be changing. Laabi seeks to eliminate the dividing lines between literary genres. He refuses to be constrained by blind adherence to any particular literary register or ideology.
He is above all a poet with an impressive number of published collections, who has sought renewal through the elimination of antiquated and unsuitable traditions.
His work as a translator has contributed to make Maghrebi and Arab writers known in Europe; but mostly he has developed a work that exhorts readers to commit and that always reminds them that the fight for freedom is endless. Rue du Retour [Le Chemin des ordalies, ]. Translated by Jacqueline Kaye. London: Readers Intenational, The World's Embrace: Selected Poems. San Francisco : City Lights Books, Hitchcott, Nicki, and Laila Ibnlfassi. Oxford and Washington, DC: Berg, Wolf, Mary Ellen.
Writing is still a risk in many countries. This was the case in Morocco when I was still living there—I was put in prison…. There are equally serious but different atrocities which occur in countries which we call democracies [in Western countries]. There is the numbing of consciousness, an indifference which is gradually settling in, there are unacceptable things that happen every day, and pass as normal.
I am implicated in this, because I am aware that the West is a part of me. It's my humanity as well. To me there is a single human condition, within which there are different situations. And I don't understand how one could think that the intellectual should be absent from all that—do your work and leave the world behind the door.
If this satisfies certain intellectuals, that's their prerogative. But for me, poetry is too closely connected to life and what it stands for. What is life if not dignity, liberty, the ability to express oneself freely?
Cite this article Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography. May 25, Retrieved May 25, from Encyclopedia. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list. Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia. Home International Encyclopedias almanacs transcripts and maps Laabi, Abdellatif —. Laabi, Abdellatif — gale.
Laabi, Abdellatif — Moroccan writer Abdellatif Laabi is a French-language poet, playwright, translator, essayist, novelist, raconteur, and activist whose works reveal his engagement with social and political issues and a strong commitment against oppression, injustice, and human rights abuses. Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia.
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Poetry Translation Centre
After an international campaign for his release, he left Morocco and went into exile in France. His works have been translated into English, Spanish, German, and Italian, among other languages. For the Moroccan poet who has long lived behind bars, light is a source of hope, inspiration, and generosity. As he writes in one of his prison poems from Good morning sun of my land how good it feels to be alive today so much light so much light around me Good morning empty exercise yard you have become familiar to me. This extract is written as a dialogue between the jailed poet and the Moroccan sun.
Conversations with Moroccan Poet and Writer Abdellatif Laâbi
It was considered as a meeting point of some poets who felt the emergency of a poetic stand and revival, but which, very quickly, crystallized all Moroccan creative energies: painters, film-makers, men of theatre, researchers and thinkers. It was banned in , but throughout its short life, it opened up to cultures from other countries of the Maghreb and those of the Third World. He was, in , forced into exile in France. And what is often worse is to see that the West remains insensitive to the daily tragedy while at the same time accommodating, not to say supporting, the ruling classes who strangle the free will and aspirations of their people.
In Praise of Defeat
Laabi, Abdellatif (1942–)