Rachida Madani Sept 16, 2008 22:46:54 GMT 2
Post by moira on Sept 16, 2008 22:46:54 GMT 2
From TALES OF A SEVERED HEAD: FIRST TALE
By Rachida Madani
Of how many castrated cities
is the woman born?
Of how many vampire-men
and demi-gods drunk on sand?
How many apples had
to tumble down from the sky?
The earth is so far from vast
that she always goes toward the same tree
is it always the woman who goes toward the tree?
I would be satisfied with a pomegranate
and I would never feel guilty
of being that apple which cuts
because I was not born from your lips
I was not born from your heart
or your skull
and had I known that you would stay
crooked for life
I would not have been born
from your rib either.
How many apples did it take
to make you tumble from the sky
demi-god drunk on sand?
Of what castrated city
is the woman born?
Why only one street
and that one so narrow?
Why does she leave cut in two
her hands preceding her body?
Why does she leave to go around
the woman who used up her tears?
How many closed doors separate you?
How many words hurled against your door
before you come out into the square?
Rachida Madani was born in Tangiers, Morocco, in 1951, and still lives there.
Her first book, Femme je suis, was published in 1981, prefaced by the Algerian socialist poet-activist Abdellatif Laabi, just after his release from prison for his political activities. Contes d’une tête tranchée, from which this sequence of extracts is taken, is her second poetry collection. It was published in Morocco by Editions Al-forkane in 2001. A collection of her poems was published by Les Editions de la Différence in France in 2007, as well as an experimental prose narrative L’Histoire peut attendre.. Her Contes d’une tête tranchée (Tales of a Severed Head) is a contemporary re-working, in three long sequences, of the the matrix of issues of women’s role in society, using as a touchstone thousand-year-old collection of tales known as the Thousand and One Nights. In Contes d’une tête tranchée, Rachida Madani’s modern Sheherazade is also fighting for her own life and the lives of her fellow citizens. But the threat comes as much from dictatorship, poverty and apathy (of intellectuals and common citizens alike) as from the power still wielded by individual men over women. This is a story of twenty-first century resistance and once again language provides the weapon. “I am no one in Shahrayar’s city”, the poet says in canto XIX, “I am nothing. But I have words, pauper’s words… stolen from the dog’s cemetery”. Madani’s title suggests that, unlike Sheherazade, her own narrator’s victory is not assured.
Other translations of Rachida Madani’s work by Marilyn Hacker can be found on the online journal WordsWithoutBorders, and on the web site of the magazine of modern Arab writing Banipal.