Moncef Ouhaibi

Moncef Ouhaïbi 2017-04-06

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

Some prizes:

  • Great price of Arabic poetry, Okaz 2014
  • Grand price of poetry, Keweit Babtine 2014

Hadrumete Sousse

The sea?
The cemetery of the Hilalis … I stated
But I faced half of it
Then I sloped down
We end at the starting point
It is a return trip
And a sandy poem, a fluid one
Am I the Hilali Oulis son of Yamen?
A tumultuous city set apart … two light
Strokes and two heavier ones
On the drum-skin
That is the din of lights
And this is the Tunisian Hadrumete, maybe another Carthage
Merchants came to it from Sur as seagulls flock to it
But we no longer know whether we came to it first or we
          reached it when we grew old
Therefore, I must say:
On their rubble cities are built as poems are wrought out
And as rhymes are arranged as stones on their shores

Seamen are unfurling their green ropes
And the sea is a billow soaring up above the ship
Then sails upon masts are steering its wind
I used to know how to lure fish as prey
When the sea is rough
I have a dog’s flair
Ashy buck-shots for hunting
As we ascend the watery staircase
(I still keep in mind the memory of a gazelle we were chasing …
          And hounds tracking it down)
Now, I’ve realized that we were the quarry … and that upon us
          it has shed tears
Now, I’ve realized we were at sea … that is the bait on a hook
          sticking to my throat as our nets wriggle
At night we sat in the light of a smoldering lantern
I’ve jotted down «this is a fluid Savannah»
Nor are there any taverns where I can hunt down my chum,
          the slave’s son.
But,I can still hear my father while he was hewing a grapevine
          in our house
Maybe we enable it to regain some of its vigor
I used to be a youngster then, and I can still hear its sobs
And there is a close moon within reach with no ripples around it
It is approaching … and the sea is spreading its shade on the
          twilight of the gulfs.
We can hear the rustling of the rope, the hissing of fire …
          there a fresh tender fish
Boned fish-meat
There a rice stock, and life smoothly elapses.
My lot was a travelers silence in their songs
While they borrow embers from a dying out fire
And they beckon death till they die
Water in this desert is not the only thing forsaken.
My body, slipping down my fingers, is the
Echoing abode for them, and the refrain of their songs in a
          colorless jar.
I said letters bore fruit then, ad so did
Its nice-plants and palm – trees.
In this standard language to which they brought
all the light from Ghazwan pr Zaghouan …

Who said the sea was the graveyard of the Hilalis?
Now they have turned out into fishermen in
wharfs deflowering, O my Dad, the darkness of the placid fish …
          at we have followed suit.
And Kairouan?
I have espied its letters … solar or lunar
And its spring in Tunisian Hadrumete
Sending forth hits light to the running ships sailing aloft.
And bodies on the sand are dotted fish
And the sea is howling, at ships, sound
North, and breaking its waves, are like lunar coffins.
The refuge of the illusioned.
I wrote
As battles bags, and boards are afloat on the water surface
Blue algae like sand, get stuffed with decayed leaves
A spider, sheltering in the web of its stars, told me:
From the solitary sand grains the Sahara rises.

© Translated by Mohamed Khsiba

Le chat andalou


Un chat andalou regardant à travers un cristal noir
Nous poursuivait toute la journée à travers Grenade
Nous errions dans l’Albaicin, il errait
Nous gravissions les escaliers de pierre, Il faisait de même
Nous descendions, IL descendait
Nous traversions le fleuve Darro, Il traversait
Nous gravissions la pente vers l’Alhambra, Il en faisait de même
Nous nous poussions des ailes à partir des arabesques
D’Abou Abdallah, il s’en procurait des ailes
Nous allions devenir des oiseaux, Il nous imitait
Qui aurait parlé de nous à ce chat andalou?
Et pourquoi nous suivait-il?
Quand nous fûmes rentrés pour notre première nuit
Quand nous défonçâmes notre première forêt
Et fîmes un lit de feuillage
Nous sautions-dans les ténèbres-d’une branche à l’autre
Cette peau bleue? est-ce la tienne ou la mienne!?
Cett voix? est-ce l’écho de la chatte ou le nectat des abeilles?
Cette fourrure sous le nombril? est-ce celle d’un félin ou d’un écureuil!?
Nous étions dans le premier langage de glaise
A nous défaire des lumières de nos corps
Et nous pénétrions dans les entrailles de la terre
Nous allions nous métamorphoser en oiseaux
Quand le chat andalou ouvrit la porte
Trainant une queue aussi bleue que la nuit!

For other contributions by Moncef Ouhaibi, please follow the link below:

Poetry in this post: © Moncef Ouhaibi
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!