Translator Sihem Hammouda shares a favorite poem by Tunisian poet Sami Messelmani
By Sihem Hammouda
Sami Messelmani, who writes mostly prose poetry, is one of Tunisia’s most distinguished poets in Tunisia. In addition to being a poet, he is also a teacher and a critic. One of his best-known works is Pillows of an Exhausted Wave.
By Sami Messelmani
Translated by Sihem Hammouda
I realize that many
do not acknowledge me,
do not see me as a rose-seller:
one who arranges lilies
or serves up carnations
perhaps because I am too calm,
like a cold fire,
and I don’t chase the
nor do I have I great desire
to lie down
like a face, its features erased
I will not be angered by their disregard,
everything they say,
will be but stray arrows
in false lights
I do not care about the limelight,
their bright lights
infect me with an intellectual insomnia
shrinking my soul,
and blinding my eyes,
have not yet become accustomed to tapping tambourines.
My understanding is that when Arab poets speak of ‘prose poetry’ in Arabic, it is the equivalent of ‘free verse’ in English as the translation of Sami Messelmani’s poem shows.
‘Prose Poetry’ in English are in paragraphs, often right and left justified, usually narrative and with several of the attributes of poetry: rhythm, internal rhyming, assonance and consonance, etc.
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