Mbarka Mint al-Barra’
Mbarka Mint al-Barra' is a Mauritanian poet and teacher who writes primarily in Arabic. A prominent figure in the cultural and literary life of her country, she has achieved some renown elsewhere in the Arab world, frequently attending literary festivals in other Arab countries.
Al-Barra' was born in al-Madhardhara, Mauritania, in 1957. In the country of the million poets, as Mauritania is often called, al-Barra' belongs to the third generation of modern poets. Like many of this group, she often uses dialogue and narrative in her poems as a means of addressing the realities of her society, borrowing images from religious texts, ancient Arab history and classical Arabic texts to portray conditions in Mauritania, the symbolism of religious stories being particularly effective in a country deeply rooted in Arab-Islamic traditions.
Al-Barra's has published works on both the social issues facing her country and its literature. Her collection of poetry, Taranimli-Watanin Wahid (Songs for a Country for All) was published in 1992. She has carried out extensive research into Mauritanian oral poetry, specifically the tibra' , a form of amorous poetry recited in closed, women-only gatherings, and has translated tibra' poems into French. A critical study, Al-Shi'r al-Muritani al-Hadith, min 1970 ila 1995 (Modern Mauritanian Poetry, 1970-1995), was published in 1998.