poetry in action #18 | Mohammed Bennis Translated by Aaron Boxerman and Phoebe Bay Carter

poetry in action features work by poets from around the world, translated into English.

It has three rallying cries:

Poets of the world, unite and take over!

Resist the oppressive constraints of good, publishable poetry established by mainstream literary venues!

Only poetry in translation, all the time!

Coming at you on the 20th of each month.






Excerpts from The Leaf of Splendor

 The Leaf of Splendor is a poetic work first published in 1988. Through a textual interweaving that in some moments spills one text across several pages and in others crowds multiple texts onto one page, it coheres into a single long poem that follows three interlaid histories: the poet’s personal history, the history of the poet’s native city of Fez, and a cosmic history of the universe.



















































Mohammed Bennis is a Moroccan poet born in Fez in 1948. He is among the most important figures in modern Arabic poetry and has published more than 30 books of poetry, prose and scholarly works. He has translated several works from French, including the poetry of Stéphane Mallarmé, and has been translated into numerous languages. He has played an active role in Moroccan and international cultural life through the founding of the magazine Al Thaqafa Al Jadida [New Culture] in 1974, his involvement in Morocco’s House of Poetry, and the establishment of the publishing house Dar Toubkal. He taught for many years in the faculty of arts at Mohammed V-Agdal University in Rabat, and now lives in Mohammedia, Morocco.


Aaron Boxerman is a lifelong student of Arabic. He has studied in Amman, East Jerusalem, and Cairo, and hopes to someday actually finish Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy.


Phoebe Bay Carter is a graduate student in comparative literature at Harvard University and a translator from Arabic and Spanish. Her translations have appeared in Brooklyn Rail’s InTranslationAlchemy, ArabLit Quarterly, and elsewhere.



poetry in action is an Action Books blog feature curated and edited by Katherine M. Hedeen (@kmhedeenwith web editing by Paul Cunningham.

March 22nd, 2021|
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