“In disparte e altre poesie” by Hassan Najmi

This article is also available in: Italiano

“In disparte ed altre poesie” by Hassan Najmi is an intensely lyrical book that will take you to the Moroccan Atlantic coast, making you experience the sensations and passions felt by the author

In disparte e altre poesie

In disparte e altre poesie is a collection of poems written between 2002 and 2006 (Rabat and Settat), accompanied by some unpublished poems that are added to this Italian edition. In these verses the poet recalls some characters from recent history, evokes old memories including some travels and memories of his childhood, and finally meditates on the question of death, life and exile.

Structure

“In disparte e altre poesie” it is a collection of poems that is divided into 4 different micro-works with a very first untitled part, which features dedications for poets and figures particularly dear and significant to him.

In disparte e altre poesie

As in “Di tutte le lotte” by Abdellatif Laabi, also in this case each of them has specific characteristics and is centered on a particular theme: in “Representations” some of the most significant poets for the poet are recalled (among which stand out figures of the caliber of Borges, Quasimodo and Darwish), in “Mirrors” to the personal experiences of the poet and the Moroccans, with continuous references both to the sea and to death, with “The story of the night” we can instead observe the more sensual and intense side of the author, while “The fragments’s notebook” collects very short compositions, which at times can recall Japanese haiku.

Returning to hometown

In the secret light of the early morning,
as in the evenings that arrive tired from an incendiary sky
she’s still the same-
His sleeping dogs at noon. The niches of the saints.
The crazy people at the bus station. The grillers. The butchers. The bakers.
The football field. The sanatorium. The gas station closed.
The place of pilgrimage of the Jews. The “Doura” bar.
The clandestine transport machines. The abuses of the gendarmes.
The Crédit Agricole. The frightened farmers flee. The souks in the surrounding area.
The voyeurs. The cowards. The gossip. The passionate spinsters.
The ancient library. The shop of “al-Sharqi”. The baker’s door.
The braids. The hammam. The great mosque.
The bathers just came out with their steam…

That boiled place where there is no scent.
Nor architecture to catch the eye.
Nothing but the Bedouin voice.
The simple singer-songwriter continues to move his fingers on the string of the soul. And these trees.
These birds. These stones that look like me–
they safeguard my first features.
They became photographs in the family album.

The spirit of the Moroccan Atlantic coast

However, what transpires most clearly from this work is the atmosphere and the typical colors of the Moroccan Atlantic coast, an area that is probably less evocative and ancient than the country’s hinterland, but which, due to its nuances, manages to leave indelible features and colors to anyone lucky enough to visit it. Even though most of the poems have Rabat as their center of gravity, reading “Mirrors” and “The Story of the Night” I felt as if I had returned to Casablanca, with its infinite sunsets and its light rain, capable of leaving a magical and barely noticeable humidity in the air. Something that is often not sought after (a good part of the poems do not focus on places but on sensations), but which is nevertheless present in the air and which makes Najmi in all respects a poet-singer of his country.

Rabat

A stormy siesta.
And senseless rain (now).
And Abu Raqraq… over there, in front of me.

A blind river that runs like a wounded bull.
The flapping of the seagulls’ wings disturbs.
And we ignore his secret.

Another characteristic of these works is the intensity of the writing, the author’s ability to lead you to experience that specific moment or sensation he wrote. Whether you’re talking about love and sensuality, whether you’re talking about your country or the misfortunes of your people, Najmi manages to put you inside that situation, to make you feel the burning passion and the calm chaos, the joy and the sadness. If you want an intense poet, who transmits to you the spirit of the Atlantic coast and these sensations, you can’t help but read “Aside and other poems”; a special compliment to the translator Sana Darghmouni because she did a truly extraordinary job.

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The mirror

I gathered the whole story of my blood and loved you.
I went out to the periphery of the body and I was the destination of your arrival.
Your light passes through me and I tell myself that I am no longer fit to love.
Your shadow surprises me warm.
My dress shivers.
As if we had secrets – only our eyes speak.
I panic when I touch your body.
I kiss you twisted like you’re pushing me towards my source
Glue my pieces together, oh mirror, you who have pity on faces.
I’m very fragmented.
Take your eyes off the disappointment of the first few days.
Unite the tribes within me.
My steps are scattered and I run after a lost cloud.
I precede you towards sins we have not committed-
On a path paved with stoning stones.

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