Synopses & Reviews
This volume brings Moroccan poet Rachida Madani's remarkable poems to English-language readers for the first time. In Tales of a Severed Head
, Madani addresses present-day issues surrounding the role of women in society—issues not unlike those explored a thousand years ago in the enduring collection of Arab tales known as The Thousand and One Nights
In the ancient tales, the insanely distrustful King Shehriyar vows to marry a new wife each night and have her beheaded the next morning, thus eliminating the risk of being cuckolded. Through the courage and wit of young Scheherazade, who volunteers to be the king's bride and then invents the legendary tales that go on for a thousand and one nights, Shehriyar is healed of his obsession and the kingdom's virgins are saved. Like her brave-hearted predecessor, Madani's modern-day Scheherazade is fighting for her own life as well as the lives of her fellow sufferers. But in today's world, the threat comes as much from poverty, official corruption, the abuse of human rights, and the lingering effects of colonialism as from the power wielded by individual men. Madani weaves a tale of contemporary resistance, and once again language provides a potent weapon.
"Marilyn Hacker's translation from French is scrupulous and lively."—Robyn Creswell, The Paris Review
"Hacker’s translations of Madani’s poems are fueled by her love of language; indeed, this is the work of a poet and translator who deeply believes in language as a means of transformation and imagination."—Warscapes
2013 Poetry in Translation Award Finalist, sponsored by the PEN American Center.
“The judges of the first Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets have agreed that, without a doubt, we are experiencing in this book the opening noises of a poet who will make a great deal of important noise in the future.”—from the foreword by Kwame Dawes
A brilliant retelling of the classic Arab tale of Scheherazade, set in the present day
Clifton Gachaguas collection Madman at Kilifi
, winner of the Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, concerns itself with the immediacy of cultures in flux, cybercommunication and the language of consumerism, polyglot politics and intrigue, sexual ambivalence and studied whimsy, and the mind of a sensitive, intelligent, and curious poet who stands in the midst of it all.
Gachaguas is a world fully grounded in the postmodern Kenyan cultural cauldron, a world in which people speak with “satellite mouths,” with bodies that are “singing machines,” and in which the most we can do is “collide against each other.” Here light is graceful, and we glow like undiscovered galaxies and shifting matter. And here as well, we find new expression in a poetry that moves as we do.
About the Author
Rachida Madani, a native of Morocco, has published several volumes of poetry in French, a language she taught for thirty years. A lifelong political militant, she expresses her resistance "not by shouting slogans and waving banners. I fight with my words." She lives in Tangiers. Marilyn Hacker is a poet, translator, and critic. For her work she has received a National Book Award, a PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and a PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, among other prizes. She lives in Paris.