“Poetry is not only a set of words which are chosen to relate to each other; it is something which goes much further than that to provide a glimpse of our vision of the world.” – Tahar Ben Jelloun
Despite being a Moroccan whose first language is Arabic, poet and writer Ben Jelloun has established his writing chops with work entirely in French. Born on this day in 1944, he started to write articles and reviews for the French newspaper Le Monde, while earning a doctorate degree in social psychiatry. In 1985 he published his first novel The Sand Child, which was widely celebrated, and in 1987 his second novel The Sacred Night won the major French writing award the Prix Goncourt. Both novels have now been translated into 43 languages, and having read Sand Child I have to add my own accolades to those already given.
He also has earned acclaim for his efforts
to foster peace and friendship among the Arabic and non-Arabic worlds and to fight
injustice and racism through his essays and poetry, a medium he finds particularly powerful and recommends to all writers.
"I came to poetry through the urgent need to denounce injustice, exploitation, humiliation. I know that's not enough to change the world. But to remain silent would have been a kind of intolerable complicity,” he said. “For me, poetry is a situation - a state of being, a way of facing life and facing history.”
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