Q: How do you reconcile your work as a paediatrician and as a writer? Is there any relationship between them?
A: Both medical profession and writing are constantly confronted with pain and death. Medicine treats human bodies in the same way writing heals human souls. As a paediatrician especially, I am closer to the world of children, which bring me back to my own childhood. And as a writer, I need to remain a child within. On the other hand, medical profession can be a choice while writing is implanted in your veins and you can’t choose your fate. In my case, writing benefits my professional life, thus I became more sensitive and more understanding of human suffering. Meanwhile medical career enriches my writing; I can deeply feel the fragility and limits of life.
Q: What are the themes which have most concerned you in your novels and poems? What is their impact on the Moroccan society?
A: I am inspired by life in general and human behaviour. I am fascinated by human power of building and destroying as well. I am moved by human capacity to love passionately and desperately and to hate as well.
My second Novel entitled CLAWS OF PLEASURE has been forbidden in Kuwait because it was about male prostitution. It was the first time in Arabic literature to deal with such a phenomenon. Fortunately Moroccan society is more open- minded about this.
Q: During an interview you said: “when facing an obese poem I answer with slim verses.” What did you exactly mean?
A: I fancy short poems with profound meaning like haiku. I am against obesity in poetry.
Maybe my scientific vocational training made me promote simplicity and precision. So, I focus more on emotion emanated from the poem than vocabulary.
In classical Arabic poetry, more attention was given to the eloquence and the wording of the verse. However, in modern writing, poetry follows the tendency of new era to be slim.
Q: In your last book called Fogli innamorati and translated into Italian by Reddad Cherrati, you clearly refer to love. What does love actually mean for you and what inspired you when you wrote your poems?
A: Without exaggeration, love means for me the life. Love makes a human being more alive, more creative. And mystery of love, as mystery of death, had always been a great source of inspiration for writers and artists.
Q: You often use the metaphor of the butterfly. What does it mean for you?
A: Butterfly means for me ephemeral and fragility of beauty and life. My poem entitled BUTERFLY OF THE END OF SPRING draws women’s portraits of middle age and the different ways they cope with fleeting time. We are not equal facing pain and tragedy and we react differently according to our sensitivity. And to a certain extent, we resemble butterfly.
Q: The theme of the Body emerges from your poems. I comment on it, in a my review: «The body is lived as an irradiation centre that, with its nudities, its mimics, and its fragrances goes beyond and absorbs the individual leading him towards the direction of sense (…) What emerges from the reading of verses is not an atrophied conscience that reduces the body to “object among objects”, but dizzy availability towards a perceptive sensitivity that becomes interpreter of desire, intense as leap to life, search of self and the other, elevation towards an emotive world in suspension, rich of echoes, drifts, movement.» So, what is the relationship among body, love and poetry?
A: I am extremely interested in the symbolism of the body in Arabic and Western literatures and cultures. Certainly, the body emerges as an important component in the identity; however, it’s poorly explored in the Moroccan culture. I wonder if we can write outside circle of the body.
A writer rebuilds and restructures his own body by writing. I mean, through a body of page, Body of letter, and body of poem, as we say in Arabic.
A representation of ‘the body’ in literature dates back to ancient times. The pre-Islamic poetry “Jahili poetry” celebrates body; the “Ghazal” is evidence that “body” has played an essential part in the Arabic poetry. Also every form of creativity: painting, sculpture, photography.. was inspired by The body despite negative point of view of religions. I think that as doctor, my relationship with body is naturally simple, transparent and without shame. According to medical concept, everyone needs to be reconciled with his body and to make peace with it in order to strike the right balance. And reconciliation means to converse with body to express its desire through words.
Writing is directly related to experience in life: social, spiritual, physical and sexual as well.
On the other hand, as a poet, I have strong passion for the body and of course my narcissism leads me to my own body. We should be in love with our own body in order to be able to love others and be loved.
Q: Your poems have been translated into French, English, Spanish, Turkish, Danish, German, Swedish. How do you feel when you listen to poems written in a foreign language?
A: Poetry has no nationality or boundaries. When we read poetry we communicate feelings other than words. We don’t need to understand words in order to appreciate or be touched by poems. So, when I hear my poems in other languages, I try to feel the emotion like echoes of my own voice and at the same time, I observe around me the audience and the impact of my poems on them. It’s just magical when the current passes.
Q: You travelled the world and met many poets and writers. Is there any encounter that you remember in particular?
A: Travelling broadens my vision and teaches me to think and speak from broader understanding of humanity. Every encounter adds something new to my life. Every meeting enriches my experience and like a child, I am always impressed by what I discover. Maybe Chinese culture impressed me greatly because it was totally different and mysterious.
Q: What are your projects for the future? What are you working on?
A: I have a new poetry book in both languages Arabic and English translation to be published soon. Also, forthcoming a new Novel and a Chinese translation of my selected poems.
Martinbook Festival 30 July 2010 - Italy