Monzer Masri

1- Don't previously tell me that you'll come

Monzer Masri Don't tell me beforehand that you'll come
No need for the mysterious rhythms
No reason for the flashing signals.
If you wish to come and pay me a visit
Don't change your shoes
Don't put on your best clothes
If you adorn yourself
I might not recognize you.
You've no excuse
To ring the bell And wait
A moment in front of my door
Or to carry a bunch of flower
And say while you scratching your shoes ales
Two.. three times:
It's the reason for getting late.
Remember :
You are a dream..


2- A book half-hanging from the edge of the table

The cheap Antiques
are still on the shelf
The dust sleeps.
The three sofas sit silently.
The mirror on the wall is
Pen and papers
And a book half-hanging from
the edge of the table.
Every thing is in its place
Nothing changes
Like details of a faded photograph
Shot long ago
But a certain anxiety
which all evidences gathered Against
Is walking on the room's floor
Back and forth


3- A dusty skull

In the plastic arts center
On the shell of the culture department
Dismembered gods
Plaster gills
And deaf ears.
On the last shelf
Among wrack of broken sculpture specimen
A dusty skull
Every body disdains to care about
Peeps its head.
I carried it in my trembling hands
And put it on a white towel
In front of me on the table
And here it is for the last two hours
Staring at me with it's hollow look
That's has no bottom..


4- Silence.. Stop fussing

I was all alone
Probing with my fingers on my frontal bone
Pressing with my both hands
The two lobes of my head
Where thoughts are tangling with hands
And bunting with horns.
Suddenly I startled to a strong knock on the wall
And an angry voice is shouting at me:
Stop fussing
Let us get some sleep..


5-Socrates is in the next room

(To Elias Marcus)
We were three that night
The argument was flaring up
Our voices were
Butting the ceiling
And kicking the walls.
We were three which means
I wasn't dreaming
And it's not my imagination
When we heard during a brief lapse of silence
In which we were taking our breath
A light tapping on the door
And a charming looking young lad in white grown
Steps in and says:
(Please low down your voices
Socrates is in the next room..)


6- They say: you have too much of...

They say:
You've got too much of blackness
Too much of ravens
Too much of spiders.
They say:
Drop out this night
Don't close all the windows
Make a way for the light
Don't let down all these curtains.
You have a shirt of flowers
Why don't you dress it on again?
And an untouched bunch of crayons
Why don't you write with them
Something colorful
Each word in a different color
As you used to do before.
They say:
Don't make this poem


7- Ravens unfold and fold their wings

The black ravens
That into the darkness of the hole
which crumbs and food remains
are thrown
Lies a pair of human eyes
watching them
coming and leaving.
The sly ravens
Prance with their flame walk
On the snow
Unfold and fold their wings
Of their glittering blackness..


8- I heard the wall

Too long I have lived in this house
Too long I have stayed in this room
Among these walls
Under this roof
Behind this door.
Too long I have lived in this house
Too long I have stayed in this room
On this bed
At this table
In front of this window
Too long have I live in this house
Too long have I stayed in this room

But the moment I packed my suitcase
And went out
I heard a wall
My name..

*written in the eighties

Monzer Masri


Iman Mersal was born November 30, 1966 in Mit ‘Adlan, a small village in the northern Egyptian Delta. She began to publish her poetry in local poetry magazines while still a student in high school, subsequently attending the University of Mansura, where she graduated in 1988 with honors in Arabic literature. From 1985 to 1988 she was a co-editor of the independent feminist magazine, Bint al-Ard (Daughter of the Earth), which published the work of young women writers, as well as articles on women and work, and feminism and Islam. While at the University, she published poetry in government-sponsored official poetry magazines in Cairo, such as Ibda‘ (Creativity) and al-Qahira (Cairo). From 1988 until 1998, she lived in Cairo, writing, editing, studying, and teaching Arabic literature, while pursuing a Masters degree at Cairo University.

In 1990 she published her first book of poetry, Ittisafat (Characterizations) (published by Dar al-Ghad, Cairo), a collection of measured verse, which was enthusiastically reviewed by the renowned novelist and literary critic Edward Khayrat in the London-based al-Hayat (September 1, 1991). Following its publication, she stopped writing for three years. When she began writing again, it was to develop an avant-garde genre called qasidat al-nathr (prose poem), far from the rhetoric and grand issues (political or national) of traditional poetry. She and others of the “new generation” considered the new genre more suitable for describing the details of daily life, and the history of individual consciousness. She ceased publishing in the official poetry journals, favoring instead independent poetry magazines which were the mouthpieces of the new style, such as al-Garrad (The Locusts) and al-Kitaba al-Ukhra (The Other Writing).

Her second book, Mamarr Mu‘tim Yasluh li Ta‘allum al-Raqs (A Dark Passageway is Suitable for Learning to Dance), published in 1995 by Dar Sharqiyat al-Qahira, achieved wide critical acclaim, including reviews in Egypt by Dr. Sabri Hafez (al-Musawwar, March 15, 1996), Amjad Rayan and Ibrahim Daoud (al-Hilal, October 1995); in London by Hashim Shafiq (al-Hayat, September 28, 1995); in Saudi Arabia by ‘Abdallah Safar (al-Yawm, September 4, 1995); in Morocco by Rashid Nini (al-Ittihad, July 1996); and elsewhere. It was selected as the best book of poetry in 1995 by polls conducted by a number of Egyptian magazines and newspapers (including Akhbar al-Adab, and Nisf al-Dunya). In 1997 her third volume, al-Mashy Atwal Waqt Mumkin (Walking As Long As Possible) was published by Dar Sharqiyat al-Qahira. Selected poems from these latter two books have been translated into a wide variety of languages, including English, French, German, Spanish, Dutch, and Hebrew, and book-length English and French translation projects are currently underway. She completed her MA thesis, on mystical intertextuality in modern Arabic poetry, in June 1998, receiving highest possible honors.

Since January 1999, Iman has resided in Edmonton, Canada where she teaches Arabic at the University of Alberta. She continues to write poetry, and has nearly completed her first novel. In June 2002, she was advanced to candidacy for the Ph.D. in Arabic Literature, Cairo University.

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