Tunisian Poetry: Ali Znaidi

by Sampsonia Way    /  January 23, 2014  / 3 Comments

Cover of Experimental Ruminations by Ali Znaidi

Experimental Ruminations by Ali Znaidi, Fowlpox Press, 2012. Image provided by the author.

Sampsonia Way is pleased to share five previously unpublished poems by Tunisian poet Ali Znaidi, who recently published his first chapbook, entitled Experimental Ruminations.

More More More

for Charles Bernstein

Listening to the rhythmic interplay twisting between
the sympathetic vibrations of the suckees’ cries makes
the bloodsuckers long for more.
More sweat, more blood, & more tears. More More More.
What a cherished word!
Only this word is musical. Only this word the bloodsuckers
love to hear.
They only want more sweat, blood, & tears to trade in.
Then, they want their suckees to perish, longing for
new blood to suck.
The bloodsuckers only inhale the aroma of the bucks
mingled w/ the scents of their cigars.
The suckees only inhale the aroma of their sweat
mingled w/ the scents of their cheap rolled cigs.
More More More. What a cherished word!
The bloodsuckers drink fine wine,
but the suckees only gather the grapes.
More More More. What a cherished word!
The bloodsuckers burp out of plenitude, but they want
more burps.
The suckees can’t even burp. So they just listen to
the bloodsuckers’ slurps.
More More More—a music to the bloodsuckers’ ears
making them tickled pink.
More More More—incognito scalpel slaying
their hearts in the long run.

  1. Experimental Ruminations
  2. Ali Znaidi (b.1977) lives in Redeyef, Tunisia where he teaches English at Tunisian public secondary schools. He graduated with a BA in Anglo-American Studies in 2002. He writes poetry and has an interest in literature, languages, and literary translations.
     
    His work has appeared in The Camel Saloon, Otoliths, Dead Snakes, streetcake, The Rusty Nail, Shot Glass Journal, Ink Sweat and Tears, Mad Swirl, BlazeVOX, The Ofi Press Magazine, The Mind[less] Muse, Red Fez, Full Of Crow, The Tower Journal, Stride Magazine, Yellow Mama, and other ezines.

     
    His debut poetry chapbook Experimental Ruminations was published in September 2012 by Fowlpox Press (Canada). From time to time he blogs at aliznaidi.blogspot.com. He also keeps a blog about Tunisian literature here.

The Sweet Water of Dream

The scarred eucalyptus tree’s boughs
suffer from lovers’ scalpels,
from carvings of hearts,, to be precise.
Suckling on the sweet water of dream,
its evergreen leaves are thrusting upward,
while defying drought & scars
thru their dream of eternity—
a water, inhaled & never exhaled,
because whenever inhaled
it is difficult to leak.

Rebirth

Yellow leaves & some worms
on the ground.

Random thoughts
chaotically in effervescence.

The crucible
is where the blues & aspirations
mingle.

Weary of fixation,
the leaves have committed suicide.

This was a kamikaze that conveys
a sense of rebirth—
a thing that some people
always deny,

as they always stick
to the same old foliage.

The Beauty of Tunisian Women

The beauty of Tunisian women
comes w/ the scents of spring,
the roses of spring,
& the almonds of spring.
Though anchored in history & myths,
the beauty of Tunisian women
is always in bloom.
It always opens onto expansive skies.
The beauty of Tunisian women
is always free, & it won’t be ever
your fuel to burn aesthetics & free will.
& it won’t be ever
your flour to bake new bread of fear.

O, Wind!

O, wind! You can drown my ship,
but I won’t drown as I can swim.
O, wind! You cannot break me
because I’m always full of vim.

O, wind! Don’t even think that you
can break my boughs from limb to limb!
O, wind! Don’t even think that you
can make my lights dim!

O, wind! You cannot empty my cup
because my dream is not a whim.
So don’t even try because
my cup is always full to the brim.

About the Author

Sampsonia Way is an online magazine sponsored by City of Asylum/Pittsburgh that seeks to protect and advocate for writers who may be endangered, to educate the public about threats to writers and literary expression, and to create a community in which endangered writers thrive and literary culture is a valued part of life.

View all articles by Sampsonia Way

3 Comments on "Tunisian Poetry: Ali Znaidi"

  1. Vladimiro Rinaldi May 2, 2014 at 1:40 pm ·

    Dear ali Znaidi, I have enjoyed your poems Rebirth and The Beauty of Tunisian Women.
    I think thse poems are cute,great,important poems.I also enjoyd your oher poems.My name is Vladimiro Rinaldi,I am a poet too,I live in Rome,Italy.You can read my poems at the web site:

    http://www.apoesdi.com

    My email address is :

    vladimiro.rinaldi@libero.it

    Best regards.

    Vladimiro

  2. Lois C. Henderson November 15, 2014 at 1:10 am ·

    The Prologue to renowned Tunisian poet Ali Znaidi’s Experimental Ruminations (Fowlpox Press, 2012), which consists of two lines from Leonard Cohen’s Book of Longing, suitably sets the tone for the poems, including a number of sonnets, that are contained in this chapbook: “I followed the course / from chaos to art”. That the current work is, most clearly, a work of art, can be seen in the great care that is taken by Znaidi in presenting the poems, both sequentially, within the book as a whole, and structurally, in terms of each individual poem.

    From emptiness emerges “full dream”, as the first sonnet in the five that start this chapbook proclaims. The sonnets, although not in traditional sonnet form, but written in free verse, as many of Znaidi’s poems are, nevertheless have the intent of sonnets, in that they focus on conveying an overwhelming emotion, which is, essentially, based on a paradox that is implicit in the human predicament. The poet’s brave and confrontational approach to life can be seen in the climax to Sonnet 2, where he welcomes the daylight that follows on “the murk of the night”.

    Znaidi’s sensitiveness to the deeper workings of an artist’s mind are voiced in his third sonnet, which compares smashed butterfly corpses adorning the walls, mural-like, as a result of the insects having lost their way during a solar eclipse, to a canvas that might astound even Salvador Dali. The greyness and bleakness of life to an individual who longs for the greenness and freshness of the prairie is heightened by Znaidi’s repetition of “grey” in Sonnet 4, where the monotony of the landscape is only alleviated by the inner eye of the imagination.

    The poet’s appreciation of the vulnerability of the downtrodden is expressed through the startling juxtaposition of “giraffe people” with “The little snail / [that] doesn’t like to be trodden”. His urgent appeal to “autograph lovers” to “Please, think of little snails!” is striking in its poignancy. That Znaidi is at home with elements of domesticity can be seen in his “A Sonnet for a Clothesline”, where a preoccupation with a clothesline embodies his concern with the linearity of life’s progression over the fluttering transience of “[b]eautiful sparrows”.

    The grittiness and depth of Znaidi’s grasp on the fundamental wellsprings of life (which he holds in common with Leonard Cohen, so little wonder for his appreciation of the singer-songwriter, as evidenced in the Prologue) is conveyed in terms of “an endless orgasmic trembling / of lust” in “A Dying Lust”. The elemental nature of things stripped bare of the need to conform to the stifling demands of a society that is concerned more with external show than inward emotions and feelings is revealed in the personified encounter between clothing and the body in “against suffocation theory”. A riveting contrast between maturity, in the form of spent passion, and the lightness and fleeting happiness of youthful fancy can be seen in “Snow Is Made up of Aphrodite’s Teeth”.

    The seriousness of “A S/tar”, which reflects how the world besmirches that which is essentially refined and noble, is alleviated by the relative levity of “Stainless Wit in Every / Direction”, which is an ironical reflection on the questionable uniformity of structure that an electronic networking medium, such as Twitter, has on the multifariousness of messages that it relays. Znaidi’s delight in playing with words can also be seen in “A”, where homophones are bandied around with glee. That the poet has a penchant for experimenting with poetic form as well as with poetic diction can be seen in his use of “A Little Haibun”.

    The political undertones of “a new kind of brew”, in his awareness of the presence of “infusion+fermentation”, show that his interests are anything but ephemeral. The immediacy of the visual imagery that permeates Znaidi’s work is explored in the many aspects of the colour blue that he evokes in “a blue composite”. In addition, the fecundity of the poet’s sensual awareness of the body corporeal once more comes to the fore in “Ease is a Pair of Stockings Torn Away”.

    Ali Znaidi, a Tunisian secondary school teacher of English, lives in Redeyef, Tunisia, and has had many of his poems published in a wide range of magazines and journals worldwide. In addition to Experimental Ruminations, Znaidi has published three other chapbooks: Moon’s Cloth Embroidered with Poems (Origami Poems Project, 2012), Bye, Donna Summer! (Fowlpox Press, 2014), and Taste of the Edge (Kind of a Hurricane Press, 2014). His collection of flash fiction, titled Green Cemetery (Moment Publications, 2014), is of landmark importance, as it is the first Tunisian flash fiction collection to be originally written and published in the English language. The diversity of his interests and the fundamental universality of his concerns make him a poet to be reckoned with on an international front.

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