As most readers of the blog know, Issandr and I spent the summer visiting and reporting from Morocco. What follows is a belated, personal and haphazard list of some cool things I discovered there.
1. Music. Hindi Zahra, a Berber-Moroccan-French singer-songwriter.
3. Casablanca's new "culture factory"--the city's old abandoned colonial-era slaughter-house, which has been taken over by a collective of artist and cultural professionals. Although the government is dragging its feet in recognizing and funding the space, it's already amazing.
4. The Cinematheque of Tangiers. This movie theatre--beautifully restored and lovingly run by photographer Yto Barrada--has been around from some time, and remains one of my favourite spots in the country.
5. Abdel-latif Laabi. The Moroccan poet and 2009 Goncourt prize winner is immensely talented; his poems pull you back and forward between the lyrical and the ironic, the poetic and the mundane.
From his collection Mon Cher Double, a poem called "Matin gris" ("Gray morning"):
Images marquées au fer rouge
d'un autre matin gris:
rictus d'un fauve
juché sur ta poitrine
te mettant les tripes à l'envers
sure le sexe et la religion
de ta mère
loque sanguinolente de ton corps
trainée, jetée dans un debarras
couche à meme le ciment
pain sec en guise d'oreiller
Nuit succédant aux nuits
plus de matin
et nul sauveur
I can't translate this poem, which seems to be about someone homeless, the victim of violence--but the last lines read: "lay flat on the cement/dry bread for a pillow/night following upon nights/no more morning/not even a gray one/and no saviour/no witness." You can read Laabi's poetry in French at his own site and others. Unfortunately, he has been little translated into English.
6. Did I mention music? This song ("Schizo Country"), by the well-known group Hoba Hoba Spirit. The video is also very cool.