By Geoff Wisner
The Rising of the Ashes, published this month by City Lights Books, was written in French and appeared in 1991 in a bilingual French-Arabic edition. The new book is a bilingual French-English edition, translated by Cullen Goldblatt.
I will be reviewing The Rising of the Ashes for The Quarterly Conversation, so for now I will only provide an excerpt from the second of the two long poems that make up the book, and quote my Words Without Borders colleague Susan Harris: “As resonant today as when they were composed, these urgent, mournful poems demonstrate the power of speech to shatter the murderous silence of war.”
Abd al-Qader Hantach
April 8, 1983
He had a wife who loved to laugh three children and a donkey.
The eldest was gone
they had blindfolded his eyes and marked his shoulder with a cross.
Hassan and Nahla guarded
the house the day and the sorrowful tree of childhood.
They watched the sky unseemly host to misery.
Abd al-Qader Hantach sold sand.
They killed him on the shore with bullets
and spared the donkey.
He had known fifty-eight years and an immense season of statelessness.
Published Mar 31, 2010 Copyright 2010 Geoff Wisner