Bridge to Global Literature

Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

Refrain In The Days Of Corona— Habib TENGOUR

Oct 11, 2023 | Poetry | 0 comments


Habib Tengour French poems

Image Used For Representation


HaHaHa covid 19     HURRAH       BRAVO    what a find
THE GANG    jubilates  bravado      BABA exults   pleased
UNIVERSE     on war footing          GAGA
Igniferous war and incredible aims     Hola!
off the hinges gleaming fangs GRRR
The citizen’s body in danger!
Take up arms! Ready set go! To the rescue!
Emergency measures — bricolage with whatever means at hand —
incoherent liberticides dixit the opponents Of all colors
Democracy the real one    The Really real      a mother hen
she worries the health of her little ones its flesh its blood
No hesitation! Sirens in your face! Closed to all criticism!
To use firmness tact accumulated ruses arranged music
to make the threat understoodlet it be fastreally fast!
danger looms ATTENTION! WATCH OUT!
this new virus endangers the population majorly
to catch ahold of oneself    SLURP…. and confidence have
After all/yes after all and before all and anything
the Republic of Algeria is Democratic
ans the People’s that’s it indeed promised
For the people by the people
The motto embellishes the pediments of the public premises
The National People’s Army is its guarantor
no doubt about that /the NOSE/ don’t speak badly
Finally OUF   THANKS pandemic my good friend no hirak no more
The hirak is but a movement masterminded by foreigners
Done with this hand-to-hand struggle where the loser believes to be the winner
A country adrift deranged trictrac blackjack billy club
Chief of staff does all the gabbing Wednesday before dinner
The enemies of the country are innumerable they want its ruin
There are those from foreign parts, awaiting the right moment to pounce
and those from inside who quibble split hairs argue
in te end fooled they fall into the trap
Those young ones walking in neat rows         Ignoramuses
They are unworthy of the blood the martyrs shed
How much gullible blood for the Fatherland’s Independence !
In the name of the citizens health     have they been asked
— it is a matter of the preservation of their bodies.
flesh had demands beyond the spirit! —
all gatherings have been suspended…
Finally the hirak demonstrators were going to stop invading the principle access roads of the country. Quiet…The calm, who needs it?  We don’t care for it in the least! What neither the intimidations nor the water cannons nor the beatings nor the tear gas nor the bullshit promises nor the arrests of the leaders nor the diversion tactics had managed, to stop the demonstrations, the corona virus would achieve on the cheap. Unpredictable Blücher. VIVA GENERAL CORORNA ! The military applaud…
and bye bye    At attention!  They not blink   not move
election held        no matter who votes the ballot boxes are stuffed
starting it up new start   we share        we share
The population        holds   yes it is there
— a civil society in the making —
don’t hear it like that
What to do ?
The regime is a sick body a rotting body the healthy body is the civil society it moves yells bitches demands a civil not a military State but always with humor and civilized silmiya silymia et khawa khawa in truth brother we aren’t it as yet completely but we can sing our tomorrows without stuffing ourselves with illusions and engraving our chant in letters of gold on the green of the meadows on the white of the white-washed walls et the bright red of our day dreams the crescent and the star in lieu of signalisation FULL STEAM AHEAD!
We laughed with Homer and all the bards from Dahra
It is not the end of the world it is a world that comes to its close
And that does not want to yield its hold    OUT !  OUT !  OUT !
With or without mask to pound the pavement of the boulevard
At a distance from the security forces keep your cool
It’s the time of the corona as at the seventh seal
But for the Predestined one nobody cares DISINFORMATION ! DEFORMATION !
At rosy-fingered down we went out this Friday
Did so again on Saturday it’s a day off
On Tuesday the students deserted the campus
The pandemic our bodies don’t care body and soul xxx
System unhealthier than virus
What God sends can be endured if reluctantly
But the military we don’t want any of
We want a civil State not gouty gangsters
A justice without telephones without free rides
Ballot boxes not cirque Amar fake boxes
The liberated people decides it is adult waiting for its vaccine
The army to its barracks and to the borders
The pandemic does not scare us
You are corona infamous virus
Our bodies have suffered too much beyond martyrdom
Our dismembered bodies thrown to the torturers
Our dreams stayed without tomorrow neither drum nor trumpet
Your extrusions we’ve had more than enough STOP
Your president made up shamelessly
All those ass-lickers eyeing portfolios
Finance culture ecology whatever it’s always good to grab
You desire this world you have polluted it
Our ideal is higher more beautiful
A free country without restrictions without alienation
You have damaged it what disgrace !
The prisons are overflowing with those revolting against you tyranny
We know the pandemic is very serious we are not stupid
The struggle goes on with other means
Our citizen movement still in its infancy will know
How to eradicate this evil a thousand wrongs in tatters and tomorrow
Go out with more resolve the gag torn off air !
Our means are not minimal but our voices carry united we
Distribute hand-sanitizer masks food bottled water
To the poor hope and good humor when
The rundown hospitals panic    BOUH…
Paris no longer available for treatment for our decrepit bodies
Don’t count on Germany or China
The silk road is mined by the Uighur
Of course you don’t care
bank-safe jacuzzi spa comfy bed
All that’s going to change soon     BASTA!   and fissa, fissa
Crying out loud we claim and reclaim our rights
Trampled rights !
Violated rights !
Confiscated rights ! but
Rights proclaimed !
Rights demanded !
We’ve already said so reverse gear say it again
No way    NO   NO   NO    we the children of Amirouche
Our bruised bodies all they want is to enjoy YES
We too love good fare under moonlight
Let’s not fear blackmail or bullets or handcuffs
As soon as confinement’s lifted all vaccinated we
Will resume our marches     OUT ! ALL OF YOU, GET OUT!

Also, read Kaido Racers and Other Poems by Dumitru Fanfarov, translated from the Romaian by the poet, and published in The Antonym:

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Algerian poet and anthropologist Habib Tengour was born in 1947 in Mostaganem. He has more than fifteen works of poetry, prose, theatre, and essays to his name published by Algerian and French publishing houses and in poetry magazines (including Poetic Action, PO&sie, La translattière, and Bacchanales). 

His work has been translated into English, German, Arabic, Italian, Macedonian, and Dutch. He divides his time between Algeria and France, and between his anthropological research and his literary work. He translates poets from English (Pierre Joris, Charles Bernstein, Cole Swensen), German (Hans Thill), and Arabic (Saadi Youssef, Chawki Abdelamir, Moncef Louhaïbi). 

He won the Dante European Poetry Prize in 2016 for his entire poetic work and in 2022 The Benjamin Fondane prize. 

He edits the ‘Poèmes du Monde’ series published by APIC (Algiers); the first edition of seven collections of poetry launched in 2018.

Recent publications:

– Traverser, APIC, Algiers, 2016; übers Meer, German translation by Regina Keil and Verlag Hans Schiler, Berlin 2017.

Le Tatar du Kremlin, PHI, Luxembourg, 2018. 

Odysséennes/Odissaiche (French-Italian bilingual edition, translated by Fabio Scotto) Puntoacapo, Turin, October 2019.  

Ta voix vit/Nous vivons, (with drawings by Hamid Tibouchi) Apic, Algiers, Octobre 2019. 

 La Sandale d’Empédocle, Non-lieu, Paris, 2021.


Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris

Pierre Joris has moved between Europe, the US & North Africa for 55 years, publishing over 80 books of poetry, essays, translations & anthologies — most recently Interglacial Narrows (Poems 1915-2021) & Always the Many, Never the One: Conversations In-between, with Florent Toniello, both from Contra Mundum Press. In 2020 his two final Paul Celan translations came out: Memory Rose into Threshold Speech: The Collected Earlier Poetry (FSG) & Microliths They are, Little Stones: Posthumous Prose (CMP). In 2019 Spuyten Duyvil published Arabia (not so) Deserta (Essays on Maghrebi & Mashreqi literature). Other recent works include A City Full of Voices: Essays on the Work of Robert Kelly (co-edited with P. Cockelbergh & J. Newberger, CMP, 2020), & earlier: Conversations in the Pyrenees with Adonis (CMP 2018). He lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, with his wife, pluridisciplinary artist Nicole Peyrafitte.



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