Poems for the Millennium - Vol. 4

Poems for the Millennium - Vol. 4

Poems for the Millennium - Vol. 4

Poems for the Millennium - Vol. 4

Synopsis

In this fourth volume of the landmark Poems for the Millennium series, Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour present a comprehensive anthology of the written and oral literatures of the Maghreb, the region of North Africa that spans the modern nation states of Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Mauritania, and including a section on the influential Arabo-Berber and Jewish literary culture of Al-Andalus, which flourished in Spain between the ninth and fifteenth centuries. Beginning with the earliest pictograms and rock drawings and ending with the work of the current generation of post-independence and diasporic writers, this volume takes in a range of cultures and voices, including Berber, Phoenician, Jewish, Roman, Vandal, Arab, Ottoman, and French. Though concentrating on oral and written poetry and narratives, the book also draws on historical and geographical treatises, philosophical and esoteric traditions, song lyrics, and current prose experiments. These selections are arranged in five chronological "diwans" or chapters, which are interrupted by a series of "books" that supply extra detail, giving context or covering specific cultural areas in concentrated fashion. The selections are contextualized by a general introduction that situates the importance of this little-known culture area and individual commentaries for nearly each author.

Excerpt

This book has been incubating in our minds for a quarter century now, and we have been gathering material for even longer—with the aim of assembling and contextualizing a wide range of writing from North Africa previously unavailable in the English-speaking world. the result is, we believe, a rich if obviously not full dossier of primary materials of interest not only to scholars of world literature, specialists in the fields of Arab and Berber studies, but also to a general audience and to contemporary readers and practitioners of poetry who, to deturn a Frank O’Hara line, want “to see what the poets in North Africa are doing these days.” It is a project meant as a contribution to the ongoing reassessment of both the literary and cultural studies fields in our global, postcolonial age. Its documentary and transgenre orientation means that it not only features major authors and literary touchstones but also provides a first look at a wide range of popular cultural genres, from ancient riddles, pictographs, and magic formulas to contemporary popular tales and songs, and is also in part a work of ethnopoetics. Drawing on primary resources that remain little known and difficult of access, and informed by the latest scholarship, this gathering of texts illuminates the distinctively internationalist spirit typified by North African culture through its many permutations.

A combination of traditional and experimental literary texts and ethnopoetic material, this fourth volume in the ongoing Poems for the Millennium series of anthologies is a natural progression from its predecessors. Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris edited the first two volumes, which present worldwide experimental poetries of the twentieth century. Volume 3, as a historical “prequel,” covers the new and experimental poetries of nineteenth-century Romanticism worldwide. This volume—which we have at times half-jokingly thought of as a “sidequel,” for its southerly departure from Europe and North America, the series’s main focus—is conceptually . . .

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