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Pirogue Poets Series

The Rule of Barbarism by Abdellatif Laâbi

The Rule of Barbarism Finally available in English, Le Règne de barbarie by Abdellatif Laâbi is one of the most daring poetic visions of the second half of the twentieth century. First published in 1976 while Laâbi was serving an eight-year prison sentence (1972-1980) for 'crimes of opinion' against the Moroccan state, The Rule of Barbarism is a devastating flight through consciousness, acquainting the reader with the trials of a society caught between a colonial past and the tragic realities of a brutal dictatorship. Analysing the presence of 'barbarism' inherent in all of us, and yet deepening our capacity for compassion despite the allure of revenge, this stunning debut from a writer on the threshold of a groundbreaking career can be read as an epic of love, empathy, anger and despair – and is as resonant today as when composed nearly fifty years ago.

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monstrosities monstrosities
in the severity of the days of retribution
I see nothing but killers
this brotherhood of killers
that bends the bow
the target hurled
into the crime
hail barbarity of great famines
hail tribal flints
hail jungle of crudeness
something in me reawakens
once again the miracle of the body

—Abdellatif Laâbi
from 'Glory to Those Who Torture Us'

Abdellatif Laâbi, poet, novelist, playwright, translator, and political activist, was born in Fez, Morocco in 1942. He was also one of the 'linguistic guerrillas' who founded the groundbreaking literary review Souffles, which was banned in Morocco in 1972. Laâbi was awarded the Prix Goncourt for poetry in 2009 for his Oeuvres complètes and the Grand Prix de la Francophonie by the Académie française in 2011. Also available in English are Laâbi's The World's Embrace: Selected Poems and Rue de Retour.

André Naffis-Sahely is a poet and literary critic. Raised in the United Arab Emirates, he now lives in London and translates from the French and the Italian. His forthcoming translations of Laâbi's Le Fond de la jarre (The Bottom of the Jar) and Frankétienne's Mûr à crever (Ripe to Burst) are forthcoming from Archipelago Books.