Poems for the Millennium, Volume 4: The University of California Book of North African Literature
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In this fourth volume of the landmark "Poems for the Millennium" series, Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour present a comprehensive anthology of the written and oral literatures of the Maghreb, the region of North Africa that spans the modern nation states of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, and including a section on the influential Arabo-Berber and Jewish literary culture of Al-Andalus, which flourished in Spain between the ninth and fifteenth centuries. Beginning with the earliest pictograms and rock drawings and ending with the work of the current generation of post-independence and diasporic writers, this volume takes in a range of cultures and voices, including Berber, Phoenician, Jewish, Roman, Vandal, Arab, Ottoman, and French. Though concentrating on oral and written poetry and narratives, the book also draws on historical and geographical treatises, philosophical and esoteric traditions, song lyrics, and current prose experiments. These selections are arranged in five chronological "diwans" or chapters, which are interrupted by a series of "books" that supply extra detail, giving context or covering specific cultural areas in concentrated fashion. The selections are contextualized by a general introduction that situates the importance of this little-known culture area and individual commentaries for nearly each author.
is rejuvenated. Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus 29 Then we have the four-footed, slowly stepping, lowly, stubborn creature . . . do you think I mean the Pacuvian tortoise? No, I don’t. The line applies to another little animal as well, really one of medium size, but with a great name. If you hear about a “chameleon” without any knowledge of it, you will fear something bigger than a lion. But once you come across one, generally in a vineyard, lying in its entirety under a vine
poems on alMu’izz’s fleet (then the dominant force in the Mediterranean) & on the caliph’s well-bred horses—to which he dedicated many verses. The Syrian blind mystic poet Abu al-’ala al-Ma’arri, however, took umbrage, saying that he’d compare al-Hani “only to a grindstone that grinds horns, so much does his poetry crackle & sputter.” Ibn Hani al-Andalusi 51 Ib n Da r r ad j a l -Qa s t a l l i ( 9 5 8 – 1 0 3 0 ) from Od e i n P r a i s e o f K h a i r a n a l - ‘ A m i r i , Emir
mouth —yet both are pearls extracted by thought diving into a pulsing mind black ink spots on the whiteness of the page: beauty spots on the lover’s lustrous face S i lv e r B r e a s t Many nights I spent with a glass of wine in my right hand while my left kept squeezing a young budding breast like an apple made from silver that was melted down and then cooled in a perfectly round mold. 58 First Diwan G o l d Na i l s She put her palm on her cheek and kept brooding though not upset as if
615 Amin Khan (b. Algiers, 1956) Vision of the Return of Khadija to Opium 617 Mourad Djebel (b. Annaba, 1967) Summer 620 Mustapha Benfodil (b. Relizane, 1968) from I Conned Myself on a Levantine Day 621 Al-Mahdi Acherchour (b. Sidi-Aïch, 1973) In the Emptiness Return to the Missed Turn 623 624 Samira Negrouche (b. Algiers, 1980) Coffee without Sugar 626 629 Morocco Driss Chraïbi (El Jadida, 1926–Drôme, France, 2007) from Seen, Read, Heard 630 Mohammed Sebbagh (b. Tétouan,
roles are multiple: filling in detail, giving context, or foregrounding specific areas. Thus “A Book of Multiple Beginnings” precedes the First Diwan, taking the reader from an early Berber inscription (see p. 10) to a prehistoric rock painting in the southern Sahara’s Tassili and Hoggar region (see p. 12) through the first centuries of recorded literary output. The Phoenician, Greek, and Roman writings from this period include some of the world-class achievements of Maghrebian culture. Creation