laabicover

In Praise of Defeat: Selected Poems

by

Translated from by

Published: January 17, 2017

$9.99$20.00

ISBN: N/A
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Book Description

Abdellatif Laâbi is without a doubt the major francophone voice of Moroccan poetry today.  Shaped by struggle and the pain of exile, Laâbi’s expressive simplicity reflects both a life worn to the bone and a resilient, embracing spirit. Laâbi’s is a poetry of protestinternally tumultuous yet delicate verse that grapples with political and spiritual oppression. This collection of poems, selected by Laâbi himself, shows the evolution of his style. From the mutilated syntax and explosive verse of his early work to the subtle lyricism and elegant constructions of phrase that characterize him now, Laâbi never ceases searching, demanding, penetrating.

The great power and subtlety of the work lies in the fine balance it strikes between that Peter Pan–like sensitivity, vulnerability and imagination, and the brutality of the real world, history and politics.

The Daily Star, Lebanon


Keeping pace with the long poems that are Abdellatif Laâbi's distinctive achievement – the poems of torture and imprisonment in Morocco, or 'People of Madrid, Pardon' written in response to the train bombings of 2004 – an English-speaking reader like me inevitably keeps waiting for the public voice, the high style of anger and compassion, to falter or overreach. But Laâbi's voice does neither. Donald Nicholson-Smith's translations hold fast to this poetry's unnerving eloquence and simplicity, and its hell-for-leather speed.

T.J. Clark


As the new collection In Praise of Defeat, deftly translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, shows, Laâbi’s early poems are poems of protest and of incarceration. They powerfully evoke the need for poetry to bear witness...In Praise of Defeat presents a poet-activist who was born in the direst possible circumstances, survived them, and has continued on a trajectory of art and activism. He shows any poet how the artistic space created by “poet, activist, former prisoner, exile” is the space where the most crucial acts of art happen.

Emily Wolahan, The Quarterly Conversation


Laâbi's poetic voice consistently raises a song of possibilities above the dirge of cruelty.

Victor Reinking


Laâbi has always been interested in inviting his readers to imagine what it would look like for a society to publicly honor, rather than privately imprison, the poets responsible for unmaking its own language.

Max Nelson, The Paris Review


Abdellatif Laâbi’s rhythm and flow come through in these incantatory verses of struggle and love for a reimagined land. He may be heeded or ignored, but the prophet-poet has spoken.

Christopher Schaefer, World Literature Today


As In Praise of Defeatshows, Laâbi’s early poems are poems of protest and of incarceration. They powerfully evoke the need for poetry to bear witness.

Two Lines Press


That Laâbi recognizes the link between understanding our time and understanding memory is profound, and should serve as an example to other authors.
Jordan Anderson, The Coffin Factory


This profile at The Majalla focuses on the political resistance of Abdellatif Laâbi’s poetry.

Read an interview with Abdellatif Laâbi in the Quarterly Conversation.

In this interview with Kristen Privallet, featured on double change, the author discusses poetry and language.

Read two poems from In Praise of Defeat over at BOMB.

Listen to Donald Nicholson-Smith speak about Laâbi and read from In Praise of Defeat here.

Lebanese-American writer Kaelen Wilson-Goldie mentions In Praise of Defeat in her 2016 roundup for Frieze.