#WiTMonth Friday Finds: Rachida Madani in English and Arabic

For Women in Translation Month (#WiTMonth), an excerpt of Rachida Madani’s Tales of a Severed Head, translated from the French into Arabic and English. Both translations by by Marilyn Hacker:

“مقتطف من كتاب “حكايات الرأس المقطوع

رشيده مدني

ترجمة مارلين هاكر

حسرت كلّ شيءّ ،حتى وشومها
المرأة التي تمشي على الجُرف
باعت أسورها
باعت شعرها
.باعت نهديها الأبيضين
رهنت دمعتها الأخير
.و لقمة خبزها الأخيرة
تكلّمت مع الجيران
تكلّمت مع القاضي
.تكلّمت مع الريح
أرادت ولدها ، هذه المرأة
التي تمشي على الجُرف
أرادته لها ، لها وحدها
ولد رحمها
أرادت أن تهدهده محدّداً
مثل كلّ النساء
بلطفٍ، بلطفٍ، و هنّ يغنّين
.مثل كلّ الليالي،  تهدهده، ولد رحمها

،ولكنّ الرجال
.الريح، يدفعوها على الجرف
تنظر  إلى المحيط
و تريد أن ترمي في المحي
لتشربه كلّه
ولكن تعود فجاةً كلّ وشومها
لتحلّ في مكانها
و تبدأ كلّها بالكلام معاً
تجد فجأةً من جديد
الأساطير الخضراء و الزرقاء
منقوشة على جسدِها
إنّها واقفة الآن أمام الأمواج المرتذّة
عيناها جافان
فمها مكتز فقط
الآن تترك الجرف،و ترحل
تذهب الآن إلى عدالتها الخاصة


An Excerpt from Tales of a Severed Head

By Rachida Madani

Tr. Marilyn Hacker


She has lost everything, even her tattoos

the woman who walks on the cliff.

She has sold her bracelets

sold her hair

sold her white breasts.

She has pawned her last tear

her last mouthful of bread.

She has talked to the neighbors

talked to the judge

talked to the wind.

She wanted her child that woman

who walks on the cliff.

She wanted him for herself

for herself alone

the child of her womb.

She wanted still to be rocking him

as all women do

gently, gently, singing

as she sang every night, to rock him

the child of her womb


But men

but the wind push her out on the cliff.

She watches the ocean

she would like to hurl herself into the ocean

to drink up the ocean.

But all at once all her tattoos

return to set themselves in place

and they all begin to speak at once.

All at once she finds

the green and blue legends

inscribed in her flesh.

Now she is standing facing the backwash

her eyes are dry

her mouth is a fold.

Now she leaves the cliff

and goes away…

Now she goes toward her own justice.


Rachida Madani was born and lives in Tangiers, Morocco. Her first collection of poetry, Femme je suis, was published in France in 1981 by “les inéditions Barbare.”  Her second collection, Contes d’un tête tranchée, was published in Morocco in 2001 by Les Editions Al-Forkane. A book comprising both of these, Blessures au vent, was published in Paris by Les Editions de la Différence in 2006, along with her first novel, L’Histoire peut attendre. Ce qui aurait pu demeurer silence was published by Al-Manar in 2015. Tales of a Severed Head, a bilingual book with Marilyn Hacker’s translations, was published by Yale University Press in 2012.