Abdellatif Laâbi: Poet, Agent of Dialogue

Abdellatif Laâbi.  Photo Courtesy: Mosaic Rooms

Abdellatif Laâbi. Photo Courtesy: Mosaic Rooms

Roland Glasser with the blog Arabic Literature reports on the public reading by Moroccan poet Abdellatif Laâbi at London’s Free Word Centre on February 18th.  The reading was held at the launch of his newest book of poems, the dual-language “Poems/Poèmes.”  Instead of Arabic, Laâbi’s’ poetry is written French, a fact that draws considerable attention from his audiences given his country of origin.

Glasser writes:

“Abdellatif Laâbi is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, yet is considered by many to be not only Morocco’s foremost contemporary poet, but one of the most important poets writing today.  Just three years ago, he was awarded the Goncourt Prize for Poetry, France’s highest literary award.”

During the event, Laâbi was asked why he writes in French, a language imposed on Moroccans during the period of French colonial rule.

“‘Every mother tongue is imposed, just like every colonial language, so why not write in whatever language you wish? […] It’s no bad thing to find yourself between two or three cultures.  Count yourself fortunate to be an agent of dialogue between these cultures.’”

If you are studying a language, in what ways has this experience developed your understanding of another culture?  How do you view language as an instrument for intercultural understanding?

1 Response to "Abdellatif Laâbi: Poet, Agent of Dialogue"

  1. Hello, i am a Moroccan poet/painter living in self exile for over 30 years in the US and would like to get in touch with Mister Laabi in the hope to send him some poems, and to help me publish them. I have a considerable amount of work ( short stories, poems and novels, but i have never made any attempt to publish my work, sincerely yours,

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