Friday, June 24, 2011

A Moroccan Poet, Born In Fez, Honoured in France

The Academie Francaise, official guardian of the French language, announced yesterday (Thursday) thaT it will recognise 70 people in its 2011 round of prize giving, including Moroccan Abdellatif Laabi and the Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra.

The main literature prize, le Grand Prix de Litterature Henri Gal worth 40,000 euros (448,000 Moroccan Dirhams), will go to Khadra, whose real name is Mohammed Moulessehoul,

Abdellatif Laabi

Abdellatif Laabi will be awarded a prize worth 22,500 euros (252,000 Dirhams).

Abdellatif Laâbi, a Moroccan poet, born in 1942 in Fes, was a recent visitor to the Fez Festival of World Sacred Music where he took part in the forum discussion on "The Arab spring: new horizons in the Maghreb". He won Le prix Goncourt in 2009.

"Everything which the Arab reality offers that is generous, open and creative is crushed by regimes whose only anxiety is to perpetuate their own power and self-serving interest. And what is often worse is to see that the West remains insensitive to the daily tragedy while at the same time accommodating, not to say supporting, the ruling classes who strangle the free will and aspirations of their people." ~Abdellatif Laabi

Laâbi, started work in the 1960's as a French teacher and was responsible in 1966 for the founding, with other poets, of the important artistic and literary journal, Souffles. It quickly crystallized all Moroccan creative energies: painters, film-makers, men of theatre, researchers and thinkers. It was banned in 1972, but throughout its short life, it opened up to cultures from other countries of the Maghreb and those of the Third World.

Abdellatif Laâbi was sentenced to ten years in prison for "crimes of opinion" (for his political beliefs and his writings) and served a sentence from 1972-1980. He was then forced into exile in France,.

Laabi has lived in Paris since 1985, and since 1988, is a member of the Académie Mallarmé. Laabi is respected as a defender of other writers who are persecuted for their writing, including Salman Rushdie.

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