The poems in The Reign of Barbarism are built out of dense, unpunctuated
phrases that seem to have been muttered into a wide silent space, an effect
that comes out just as clearly in André Naffis-Sahely’s recent
translation... There is nothing barbarous about Laâbi’s exacting,
propulsive early verse. If anything, in Laâbi’s writing from The Reign of
Barbarism to Le livre imprévu—and nowhere more than in the writing he
produced from prison—it’s a sign of decency, humility, and civility to be
able to unmake one’s language, to recognize one’s own spoken or written
tongue as no less of a guttural, hissed-out, scraped together thing than
any other. (At intervals in the early poems, Laâbi literally opens up holes
in certain words by inserting a space between each of their letters.)
Barbarism, in contrast, is to insist that one’s language is too sacred to
suffer unmaking—and to silence violently anyone who tries to unmake it.
Laâbi would watch Morocco successfully liberate itself from the rule of one
such barbarous regime, then fall under the control of another.--The Paris
Review.

Abdellatif Laâbi—La Règne de Barbarie

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