from ‘The Death of Abderrahman’


These are the first two sections from a nine-section poem. The poem is written in memory of the poet’s friend and former colleague, Abderrahman Benlazhar. Benlazhar was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists for being a prominent intellectual at the University of Constantine in 1992. These murders were common and often described as ‘visits’, as one of the Algerian participants informed the group.

Delaina, our guest translator, explained to the group that throughout the poem Tengour employed a poetics of fragmentation, where the sense is established through fragments and the narrative follows through imagistic jolts. These effects are achieved, in the French, whilst maintaining a beautiful and sonorous lyricism. We tried to translate these (often vowel sound patternings in the French) into constontal patterns in the English (e.g. the repeated ‘h’ sounds in the final stanza of the first section).

Edward Doegar, Commissioning Editor