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Abdallah Zrika

Born in Casablanca in 1953, Abdallah Zrika grew up in the slums of Ben Msik. He wote his first poems at age twelve & self-published his first book (Dance of the Head and the Rose) in 1977. In these so-called "years of lead" of political repression & student unrest, the book was an immediate popular success with the younger Moroccan generation—as were the many poetry readings he gave to audiences that often numbered in the thousands. In 1978 he was arrested and condemned to two years in jail for disturbing the public order and for supposed crimes against “the sacred values” of his country. Since his release in 1980 he has continued his career as a writer, becoming one of Morocco’s major voices. Abdellatif Laâbi called the early work “brutal, disheveled, wild, blasphemous, one could be tempted to say that it is voluntarily ugly—the same way people found Picasso’s paintings ugly,” while he sees the more recent work as having “restructured itself to make room for the visionary” by becoming a “crucible in which human and historical matters are transmuted. . . . After having called for the destruction of the old world, he has now put his shoulder to the task of reinventing life.” Of Zrika’s ten or so books, three have been translated into French.

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