Moncef Ouhaibi (Doctorate of State es-lettres) was born in 1949 in Kairouan where he lives. He is Professor of Arabic Language and Literature at the Faculty of Arts and Humanities of Sousse (Tunisia). He also has made several contributions in the journalistic field.
More information about Moncef Ouhaibi on: Wikipedia (French)
Documentaries and fiction:
- Devant les portes de Kairouan ou Pays qui me ressemble (voyage de Paul Klee à Kairouan en 1914) (Tunis, 1996)
- En attendant Averroès (Tunis, 1998)
Among Moncef Ouhaibi’s other publications:
- Tablettes (Tunis, 1982)
- De la mer viennent les montagnes (Tunis, 1991)
- Manuscrit de Tombouctou (Tunis, 1998)
- Métaphysique de la rose de sable (Tunis, 2000) Prix Chabbi
- Livre du bâton et Index des animaux (Beirouth, 2007)
- Les biens de la dame qui a oublié de grandir (2010)
- Que toute chose se taise, recueil, Ed. Bruno Doucey (Paris, 2012) (Prix Nikos Gatsos,Paris 2012 – Une mention spéciale du jury)
- La maîtresse d'Adam (Grand prix littéraire Comar d’Or 2012
- Great price of Arabic poetry, Okaz 2014
- Grand price of poetry, Keweit Babtine 2014
Is this a bar or a shelter for agonizing people?
Nobody hears the sea’s genii here
Did they lace themselves into this bar
to a mast?
Did they close their ears with wax, then?
Or were they listening
Knowing in advance what the sea’s genii were singing?
The bar is on the sea front
And from its first floor, we see a summer
Regiments of vacationists
Flower-stalk like women … sunbathing
You may see a boy puffing into a shell.
Sometimes a little girl, calmly, sticks her parasol
As if injecting a given summer remembrance
I used to tell myself nobody knows me in August Bar
With my clothing
My winter coat and the hedgehog-like hat as the sea mumble
ascends a winter
Or transcends waves
Sometimes … a beret …
A smooth-woolen shirt
Or even a coarse linen
A pair of blue or black jeans
Turning the sand into an autumn
Or a pine’s bark, awoken by rain, into a spring
Or a wind
Or shines in the Mediterranean
A stain of coal or petrol
Someone in a captain like
Seems to me he knows me
Or it seems to me I know him
I remember not where we met
Comes through the deep dark
Moving a nose like a rabbit
Between colourless crockery
Perfumed with resin smell
I say to myself: if I had a potter’s feather … if …
He comes in like a thief
And leaves like a thief
With a straw-like coloured hat
And no rain to spoil the captain’s hat and no wind, either
Was he praying when sharpening his eyes
But it seems to me no breath coming out
Not a single breath
I do not remember where we met
But I remember him … and as I do remember him, I’m about to
Sometimes, when I am about to call him
He rises his white index
To his closed white lips
Tight they are as a bit of snow
He makes me a sign to silence, while his eyes shine.
– Did you do your military service?
– I did not … or say I missed the chance … I do not know
Never seen a war before. I am a boat captain. That is it.
I was there in the Mediterranean
I pushed them through rock arches cracks
– Tell me about Tunisia after the revolution
– Dolce Vita
None of my concern except this glass.
I know about August permanent customers
I mean I know none of them, really
I wonder why their number drops through seasons
And some of them never come.
Soak this fresh sea bass … hurry up
Prepare for our old friend a whipped potatoes dish
The old man says: Is this a sea or a fish maker? Is this a sea bass?
The old man says, lispingly, to his old friend:
It is enough for me the day long
Some fried rice balls in minced meat
The captain replied: watch the stairway. Smooth it is just like a
Today, here in August bar
In its first floor, I say to myself
A cloud is scrubbing the below sea … The blue turns green, yellow-
Did I mislead my guide?
The birdie girl will not pass through
A kidnapped arrow where wind rests
Through her shoes
Flows a spray of sand and pebbles.
And I say thinking I am in Timbuktu
Nobody recognizes me with my clothes
I also say: it may rain in a moment
The captain says to his friend
While drops of glass slip in cold water
And, calmly, the sea regains its normality
With a creamy froth above:
– Try this wine.
( But … was he whispering to me or to his friend?)
A painting I was scanning you
I was there in its background
Untrue I was in your mind
Soon are forgotten the absent like me
Are you following me?
It is so easy
Just the time a bird needs to wide open its wings.
I think I am listening to a singing sound
While to the sea I was heading.
A Bar on the Mediterranean Border
By the late 69, I remember a bar and stony stairs used to take us
You remember it?
On the Mediterranean corner … If the university scholarship allows,
by the end of each trimester, to settle within suburbs …
You remember it?
Various tables just for you …
Where matured shadows like wine … within …
They are the same shadows …
And through a small window … I do remember … in its wooden and
cracked roof …
A sun comes in … and lightens a shadow here or there.
Lightening our fingers
With the wine turning sour …
Its red turns green … and becomes sweet for us …
Then she drags a shadow and goes away …
So has been the sun’s work ever
By night, when the air turns dry and greenish
Green was the air
Water carries grass and salt smell …
It carries towards us the iodine’s perfume
We breathe a sea with all its green moss
And the smell of its fishes
Then come the flowers to shed lights on our gloomy table
Let me say a given colour around us is still
Like these colourless jars
Do you remember them?
Sitting calmly under the fine rain?
A body was preceding me … my body
And I’m this body’s mum.
I used to pity it as much as a mum does.
I could not reach it
And it did not turn around or behind.
Let’s give birth without any regret for our loss
Let, then, the speaking inside of us child’s laughter be
Our tears’ salt
And let’s call the branches they cut trees’ bones
We grow in between plants
So do our bodies … except those plants
Never deliver their secrets
They don’t teach us how to grow green over the seasons
And how to get their skin while weaving
Woken or sleeping
All what death does: it separates us from shadows of ours
Then nothing but flashes of absence
Two dogs are barking farther … than our friend “Bruno Dussey” house
The 19th district
In Crimea Street where I, face to face, pass the night
And further in clay and sand a wind blows …
Through my room, I overlook the night
As if I see a star about to leave
I’m now alone at home
So what are you waiting for, now? From me?
A shooting star
Falling in the garden’s grass cold.
It seems that the daytime bed comes with its rainbow colours …
we follow it …
Here it is the river led through by “la Seine”
I feel I’m leaning
Am I getting any feathers and any sail?
We come without words and we go without words.
And here we are getting out of an ever inside cage
A cage torn to be in.
Nobody is coming to show us the exit
Just a grey-haired old man standing here
Tunisia, though, is green this Spring.
For other contributions by Moncef Ouhaibi, please follow the link below:
Published with the permission of Moncef Ouhaibi
The Poet Jean-Claude Villain has been most helpful
with the correspondence of Mr. Moncef Ouhaibi – Thank You!