One Hand Isn’t Enough to Write With by Abdellatif Laâbi
Abdellatif Laâbi is virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, yet is considered by many to be not only Morocco’s foremost contemporary poet, but one of the most important poets writing today. In 2010 he was awarded the Goncourt Prize for Poetry, France’s highest literary award. When Lawrence Ferlinghetti visited Paul Bowles in Morocco in search of poetry talent for his City Lights press and bookshop, the expatriate composer, author, translator and long-time Tangier resident told him to look up Abdellatif Laâbi.
Abdellatif Laâbi has a wonderful low voice, sonorous, light, delicately poised, with just an edgy hint of a Maghreb accent. It’s a real joy to hear a poet read their own work, and I muse on how lucky I am to understand both the original and translated versions perfectly. It’s almost like watching one of those split-screen films where the same scene is played out simultaneously from different angles.