The Politics of Translating al-Shabbi’s ‘If the People Choose to Live One Day’

It’s fascinating how the poem shifts tremendously on the decision of whether to translate الشعب as “a people/the people,” which makes them a collective, or as “people,” thus turning them into individuals.


The Difficulties of Translating Tunisian Poet Abu al-Qassim al-Shabbi

Translations of work by Tunisian poet Abu al-Qassim al-Shabbi (أبو القاسم الشابي) continue to make their way around the Internet, mostly as a symbol of hope and change, less so as renewed interest in the poet himself. Many of these translations are repeats of the anonymous Wikipedia version of “To the Tyrants of the World” or of As’ad Abu Khalil’s rendition of the poem he titles “The Will of Life.” But there have been other attempts as well.

To the Tyrants of the World

Who does not, this morning, have hope (and fear) for Tunisia on the brain?

I can’t say much for this anonymous Wikipedia translation of Tunisian poet Abo Al Qassim Al Shabbi’s (1909-1934) “To the Tyrants of the World,” but here it is:

Reading Tunisian Author Kamel Riahi on Revolt

As I waited on news this morning about a rumored coup in Tunisia, I thought I’d re-read Kamel Riahi, who says of his stories that they reflect “the lives of the poor [in Tunisia], the homeless, the shoe polishers, الشطّار, young criminals, prostitutes, crushed employees, sailors and street peddlers.”

What (or Who) Is Tunisian Literature?

When the latest issue of Banipal was released (39: Tunisian Literature), the MLA Division on Arabic Literature and Culture commented on Facebook:

New Banipal issue is devoted to Tunisian Literature–a nice gesture, but is that really it? Is that Tunisian literature? (Anyhow, let’s just say, it’s better than nothing)